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The Franco-German War 




Franco-German War 

1 8707 1 








45, Albemarle Street, W. 


[^All rights reserved] 

FEB 3 1R92 



/ :l. 


Fighting round Paris. 

Paris in Xovember 

The Attempt to Release the Army of Paris (November 

30th and December 2nd) 
The Advance of the Ist Army in November 
The Battle of Amiens (November 17th) 
The Taking of La-F^re (November 27th) 
The Taking of Diedenhof (November 24th) 
The Investment of Belf ort in November 
Battle of Orieans (December 3rd and 4th) 
The German Advance on the South, East and West 
The Grand Duke's Battle (December 7th, 8th, 9th, and 

10th) .... 
The Interraption of Serious Offensive Operations in 

The XrVth Corps in December 
The Ist Army in December . 
The Taking of Meziftres 
Paris in December 

The Fight at Le Bourget (December 21st) 
The Reduction of Mont-Avron (December 27th) 






vi The Franco-German War. ' 

Active Operations in the Provinobs. 

Tho Army of the East under General Bourbaki . . 86 

The Advance on Le-Mans 90 

Battle of Le-Mans (10th, 11th, and 12th of January) . 112 
Operations on the North of Paris during January . .139 
The Battle of Bapaume (January 3rd) . . . .142 

Actions on the Lower Seine 146 

Occupation of P^ronne 149 

Battle of St.-Quentin (January 19th) .... 156 
Operations at the South-Eastern Seat of War up to 17th 

of January 169 

Transfer of the French Eastern Army to the South- 
Eastern Scat of War, towards the end of December. 174 
Action of Villersexel (January 9th) . . .178 

. 188 
. 204 
. 212 
. 219 

Battle of the Lisaine (January 15th to 17th) 
Tho Bombai-dment of Paris (January, 1871) 
Battle of Mont-Valerien (January 19th) . 
The Bombardment of Paris till the Armistice 


The Progress of the War in the South and West. 

The Army of the South under General von ManteuflTel . 227 
General Hanu von Wey hern's March on Dijon . .261 
Occupation of the Departments of Doubs, Jura, and 

C6te-d*0r 263 

The Siege of Belfort 264 

Contents. vii 




The Annistice 275 

The Return March of the German Army 284 


Memorandum on the Councils of War said to have 


William 293 




Paris m November. 

The report, which became known on the 14th 
November, of the happy result of the action at 
Coulmiers on the 9th, had raised new hopes in 
Paris. No one any longer doubted that the enemy 
would find it necessary to send large forces in that 
direction, which would considerably weaken the 
investing lines, particularly in the south. 

In order to assist the hoped-for relief by inde- 
pendent action when the time came, three armies 
were formed out of the garrison of Paris. 

The first, under General Clement Thomas, con- 
sisted of 226 battalions of the National Guard, in 
round numbers 130,000 men. They were to de- 
fend the city walls and maintain peace in the city. 
The second, under General Ducrot, included the 
most trusty elements, particularly the troops which 
had hitherto constituted the Xlllth and the XlVth 
Corps. This army was divided into three Corps 

VOL. n. B 

2 The Franco-German War. 

and one Division of Cavalry, consisting of fully 
100,000 men and more than 300 guns. They were 
intended for active service in the field, and for 
making sorties on the investing forces. The third 
army, under General Vinoy, 70,000 strong, con- 
sisted of six regiments of the Garde-Mobile, and 
one Division of Cavalry ; and Maud'huy's Infantry 
Division was also distributed among them. They 
were to support the more important sorties by 
making feints against the foremost besieging lines. 
Besides these, 80,000 of the Garde-Mobile were 
in the forts, and 35,000 men at St.-Denis under 
Admiral de la Ronciere. 

The available fighting power consequently 
amounted to above 400,000 men. 

The garrison exhibited a remarkable activity in 
small night engagements. The heavy guns in the 
place would carry as far as Choisy-le-Roi, and even 
to Beauregard, near Versailles. They worked hard 
in the trenches on the peninsula of Gennevilliers 
and constructed a military bridge. Several things 
showed that the French intended to make an attempt 
on the west. But since, as long as the Ilnd Army 
was still incomplete, the greatest danger threatened 
the Germans from the south, their Commander- 
in-Chief, as already mentioned, kept the Ilnd Corps 
behind the Yvette from Villeneuve to Saclay. On 
the north of Paris the Corps of Guards spread them- 

Preparations in Paris. 3 

selves out to the left towards Aulnay, the Xllth 
crossed to the south bank of the Mame, and the 
Wurtemburg Division moved to the position left 
vacant by the Ilnd Corps, between the Mame and 
the Seine. 

On November 18th the summons came to 
Paris from Tours to effect a prompt connection 
with the Army of the Loire, somewhat prematurely, 
as we know, since that army was still deliberating 
about merely defensive measures. 

In Paris, arrangements were, indeed, being made 
for a great sortie. But as the earlier attacks on 
the centre of the Vlth Corps had shown that this 
had been considerably strengthened by fortifica- 
tions at Thiais and CheviUy, it was decided to 
reach the uplands east of Joinville and from thence 
to turn oflF to the south. The attention of the 
Germans was to be diverted by means of attacks in 
the opposite direction. 

On the 18th, the day on which the Army of 
Orleans had vainly endeavoured to press on to- 
wards Beaune-la-Rolande, GeneralDucrotassembled 
the Ilnd Paris Army in the neighbourhood of 
Vincennes, and the Ilird, with Hugues's Division, 
occupied Mont-Avron on the following day. As, 
however, the construction of bridges at Champigny 
and Bry was not yet completed, battle was post- 
poned till the 30th ; but it was left to the leaders 

B 2 

4 The Franco-German War. 

of the minor engagements to carry them into 
effect simultaneously or separately. Accordingly, 
Maud'huy's Division collected during the night of 
the 29th behind the redoubt at Hautes-Bruyferes, 
and marched towards L'Hay before daybreak. 

Warned by the heavy firing from the southern 
forts, General von Tlimpling had ordered the 12th 
Division to get under arms early in their posi- 
tions, and the 11th to assemble at Fresnes. 

The French, favoured by the darkness, made 
their way through the vineyards into L'Hay ; yet 
they were successfully driven back by the Germans 
with the bayonet and clubbed arms. 

After continuing the firing for some time, the 
French renewed their onslaught at 8.30, but with- 
out success; and then the defenders, reinforced 
from the reserve, replied with a vigorous charge. 
At ten o'clock the enemy retreated to ViUejuif. 

Admiral Pothuau had at the same time ad- 
vanced up the Seine with the Marine Infantry and 
the National Guard. A vedette at Gare-aux- 
Boeufs was surprised and taken prisoner, and Choisy- 
le-Roi was fired upon by field-guns, artillery, and 
some gunboats which appeared on the Seine. 
Meanwhile, as the Grenadiers of the 10th Regiment 
(German) were on the point of making an attack 
on their side, General Vinoy stopped the fighting. 

This demonstration cost the French 1000 men 

Sorties from Paris. 5 

and 300 uninjured prisoners ; the Prussians, who 
were under cover, lost only 140 men. Still, the 
forts kept up fire till mid-day, and then the enemy 
were allowed a short truce, in order to carry away 
their numerous wounded. 

Against the centre of the Vth Corps also a strong 
force of infantry had advanced at eight o'clock, 
upon Garches and Malmaison, and had driven in 
part of the outposts. But they soon met with 
opposition from the battalions, and at noon retreated 
into Val^rien. 

The Attempt to Release the Army of Paris. 
(November 30th and December 2nd.) 

On November 30th the Ilnd Paris Army opened 
the battle which was to decide the fate of the 

To prevent the concentration of the Germans 
towards the real attack, the investing lines were 
engaged against sorties at almost every point. 

General Ducrot ordered SusbieUe's Division of 
his Ilnd Corps to march to the south. These had 
already reached Rosny by three o'clock in the 
morning, crossed over the Mame at Cr^teil by a 
flying bridge, and from thence, briskly supported 
by the neighbouring forts, opened fire on the 

6 The Franco-German War. 

Wurtemburg Division, whose outposts had been 
pushed forward as far as Bonneuil and Mesly. 

General von Obemitz had to maintain an ex- 
tended position, his 1st Division, being near 
Villiers on the peniQsula of Joinville, his 2nd at 
Sucy-en-Brie, and his 3rd at Br<5vannes. The 
division had been placed under the general in 
command of the Army of the Meuse, who had re- 
ceived orders from Versailles to increase his strength 
considerably by the addition of the Xllth Corps, 
or even of some troops of the Corps of Guards. 

In consequence of the enemy's enormous num- 
bers on Mont- Avron, the Saxon Corps believed them- 
selves immediately threatened on the right bank 
of the Mame, and requested to be immediately 
transferred to the left ; but the Crown Prince of 
Saxony gave orders that the whole of the 24th 
Division should assemble there on the following day. 

Thus, for the present, no help could be rendered 
to the Wurtemburgers but by means of the wing 
of the Ilnd Corps, which was posted at Villeneuve, 
instead of the 7th Brigade of Infantry, which was 
sent near Br^vannes to Valenton. 

The fire of three German batteries, on their 
way to that town, first brought the advance 
of the French Division to a stand. The attempt 
of the Wurtemburgers to take Mont-Mesly com- 
pletely failed at the outset ; but after the artillery 

Sorties from Paris. 7 

was brought into play they succeeded in taking 
the hill by twelve o'clock, and the Prussian 
battalions made their way into Mesly. The 
Wurtemburg troopers attacked the enemy's re- 
treating guns with great success. At 1.30 the 
reopening of the fire from the forts announced 
the end of this sortie. It cost the Germans 350 
men, and the French 1200. 

During this time the centre of the Vlth Corps had 
not even been disturbed. General Vinoy, who 
had not been informed of the advance of Susbielle's 
Division, as soon as its retreat was noticed, opened 
a rapid fire on Ivry and the adjoining works, which 
was augmented by gunboats on the Seine, and 
armour-plated batteries on the railway. Then 
Admiral Pothuau advanced against Choisy-le-Roi 
and Thiais. He once more set his marines to drive 
out the Prussian outposts from Gare-aux-Boeufs. 
But the further advance failed, and General Vinoy 
recalled his troops, after which the fighting at 
Mesly ceased, and only the thunder of artillery 
continued till five o'clock. 

After a preliminary cannonade from Valerien 
the Garde-Mobile advanced against the centre of 
the Vth Corps as early as seven o'clock. They were, 
however, repulsed by the outposts, and supports 
who were in readiness, and retired at eleven 

8 The Fran(X)-German War. 

Further towards the north of Paris a sharp 
skirmish took place. At mid-day the Fort de la 
Briche, supported by field-guns and a floating 
battery, opened a heavy fire on the low-lying 
village of Epinay, on the right bank of the Seine. 
At two o'clock Haurion's Brigade advanced, two 
companies of marines pressed into this place along 
the bank of the river, and drove out the garrison, 
which consisted of only one company. A second 
also retired from the base of the fortifications in a 
northerly direction towards Ormesson. At three 
o'clock in the afternoon, the village, with a few 
obstinately defended farms on the further side of 
the mill-race, fell into the hands of the French. 

Meanwhile the troops of the IVth Army Corps 
had assembled, and established seven batteries on 
the heights above. The infantry rushed into the 
village from all sides with loud cheers, and after 
a fierce street-fight recovered possession of the 
lost posts ; and it was this transitory victory that 
was to raise such great hopes in Tours. The losses 
on both sides amounted to 300 men. 

These were all mere feints to facilitate the chief 
action ; and whilst the investing troops were thus 
engaged and attracted to various points, two Corps 
of the French Ilnd Army at 6.30 in the morning 
crossed the bridges at Joinville and Nogent which 
had been completed during the night. After 

Sorties from Paris. 9 

repulsing the German outposts they both deployed, 
and completely covered the peninsula between 
Champigny and Bry. The Ilird Corps had taken the 
road along the north bank of the Mame, towards 
Neuilly, to cross the river there, thus at the same 
time threatening the position of the Saxon Corps, 
who therefore detained the 47th Brigade on the 
right baok, though it had been sent to the assis- 
tance of the Wurtemburgers. Consequently only 
two Grerman brigades, spread over three-quarters 
of a mile, were left to face the two French Corps 
on the left bank, with the Saxon 48th at Noisy, 
and the Wurtemburg 1st between ViUiers and 

At ten o'clock Maussion's Division advanced 
towards the Park of ViUiers. Supported by the 
Saxon divisions from Noisy, the Wurtemburgers 
repulsed a first attack, but in following it up met 
with heavy losses. The French batteries of two 
divisions and those of the Artillery Reserve formed 
line in front of the park. On their right wing 
Faron's Division, which had met "inth no slight 
losses, occupied Champigny, and was drawn up 
for defence in front of this position. 

General Ducrot's original idea had been to pro- 
long the engagement on the peninsula until he 
could be joined at Noisy by his Ilird Corps. But 
as news arrived that at eleven o'clock they were 

lo The Franco-German War. 

still beyond the Mame, he ordered a general 
attack by the two other Corps to commence at 

On the left their advance was checked for 
a considerable time by the German batteries 
bet^veen Noisy and Villiers, and when Colonel von 
Abendroth advanced with six companies of the 
48th Brigade from both those places to attack in 
force, the French retired to the vineyards on the 
western slope of the plateau, even leaving two guns, 
which, however, the Saxons could not take away 
for want of horses. 

In the centre, Berthaut's Division tried to pass 
south of Villiers, but, under a fire from five 
batteries stationed there and at Comilly, its 
ranks were so much thinned that it fell back 
before the advance of a Saxon battalion. 

On the right wing, the guns which had been 
brought up for the defence of Champigny had at 
last been compelled by the German artillery to 
withdraw, and had again sought cover further north, 
near the lime-kilns. A division of infantry had 
advanced along the river to Maison-Blanche, but 
in the meantime the 2nd Wurtemburg Brigade, 
although itself attacked at Sucy, had des- 
patched two companies and a battery to Chenne- 
vieres as reinforcements. Moving forward from 
the Hunting-lodge, the Wurtemburgers took 200 

Sorties from Paris. i r 

French prisoners at Maison-Blanche ; though, on 
the other hand, the attempt to scale the heights 
before Champigny with the companies assembled 
at Comilly failed with heaxj losses. However, on 
the renewal of the flank attack from the Hunting- 
lodge, Faron's Division, which had already been 
seriously shaken, was obliged to retreat to Cham- 

General Ducrot decided to be content, for that 
day, with having established a firm footing on the 
left bank of the Mame, and he brought up 
sixteen batteries to a position in his front, to 
secure the ground he had gained. On the follow- 
ing day the attack was to be renewed by aU three 

The Germans, on their part, had to congratulate 
themselves on having held firm against superior 
numbers. And so in the afternoon the fighting 
gradually died away, until it broke out again in 
the north. 

The French Ilird Corps, marching up the right 
bank of the Mame, had left a strong force in 
NeuiUy, and had driven back the outpost of the 
Saxon 23rd Brigade. Under cover of six 
batteries the construction of two military bridges 
below NeuiUy was begun at ten o'clock, and 
finished by noon. Just at this time it happened, 
as we have seen, that the French on the plateau 

12 The Franco-German War, 

were retiring, so the passage did not take place 
until two o'clock in the afternoon. BeUemare's 
Division marched along the valley to Bry, where 
they joined the left wing of the Ilird Corps. A 
regiment of Zouaves, trying to ascend the heights 
from that side, lost half its men and all its officers. 
Notwithstanding this, Greneral Ducrot decided to 
bring his increased reinforcements to the renewal 
of the attack on ViUiers. 

Reinforced by four battalions, the divisions 
advanced in this direction, although the artillery 
had not succeeded in battering down the park wall ; 
repeated onslaughts of infantry were repulsed, and 
finally the French retreated into the valley. 
Simultaneously with this, Berthaut's Division failed 
in an attack on the railway, and Faron's in one on 
the Hunting-lodge. Not till darkness had set in 
did the firing cease on both sides. 

In the direction in which the French Ilird 
Corps had been fighting in the morning, the 
Crown Prince of Saxony had collected the 
23rd Division near Chelles ; but as soon as the 
enemy's true plans could be known, he sent off a 
detachment of the 47th Brigade and part of the 
Artillery Corps to the threatened position held by 
the Wurtemburgers. In the same way General 
von Obemitz, as soon as the fighting at Mesly was 
over, despatched three battalions to the Hunting- 

Attacks from Without. 13 

lodge. At night orders came from head-quarters 
for the Ilnd and Vlth Corps to send reinforce- 
ments to the position where the investing lines 
were in danger, and the 7th and 21st Brigades 
arrived at Sucy on the following day, the 1st of 

The attempt on the part of the French to break 
through without help from outside was already 
considered as fairly hopeless, and it was only the 
fear of popular indignation which caused the Ilird 
Army to remain any longer on the left bank of the 
Mame. Instead of attacking, the French began to 
intrench themselves, and in order to clear the 
battlefield a truce was arranged. The thimdering 
of the artillery of Mont-Avron must serve for the 
present to keep the Parisians in a good humour. 
The Germans also worked at strengthening their 
positions, but, suffering from the sudden and 
extreme cold, they withdrew at least part of their 
troops to quarters further to the rear. 

The command of the whole of the German Army 
between the Mame and the Seine was handed over 
to General von Fransecky. The Commander-in- 
Chief of the Army of the Mouse had already 
arranged that Prince George, with all the available 
troops of the Xllth Corps, should take Bry and 
Champigny by surprise in the early morning. 

With this object, on the morning of the 2nd of 

14 The Franco-German War. 

December, the 24th Division assembled at Noisy, 
the 1st Wurtemburg Brigade at Villiers, and the 
7th Prussian at the Hunting-lodge. 

The foremost battalion of the Saxon Division 
drove back the enemy's outposts by an unexpected 
rush, took 100 prisoners, and after carrying a 
barricade, entered Bry. Here the fighting took 
the form of fierce action round the houses, in which 
the 2nd Battalion of the 107th Regiment lost 
nearly all its officers. Nevertheless, they held 
their ground, in spite of the heavy fire from the 
forts in the northern parts of the village. 

The Wurtemburgers also seized Champigny, but 
soon met with fierce resistance from the enemy, 
who were sheltered in the buildings. Bois-de-la- 
Lande, previously occupied, had to be abandoned, 
and General Ducrot himself determined to attack. 
The strong lines of artillery on his front came into 
action at about nine o'clock, and two divisions 
deployed behind them. 

Meanwhile, the battalion of Fusiliers of Colberg's 
Regiment marched once more from the Hunting- 
lodge on Bois-de-la-Lande, and took possession of 
it at the first onslaught. The French, who were 
firing steadily from the railway embankments, drove 
back the Pomeranians with clubbed rifles and at 
the point of the bayonet. A brisk fight was carried 
on at the same time near the lime-pits, where at 

The Fight at Champigny. 15 

noon 160 French laid down their arms. Whilst the 
6th Wurtemburger and the 9th Prussian batteries 
were by degrees brought into action against Cham- 
pigny, General Hartmann succeeded in getting as far 
as the Bry road. As, however, the batteries were 
prevented by their own troops from firing, and 
were suffering, too, from the projectiles from the 
forts, they were withdrawn behind the slope of the 
valley near the Hunting-lodge. At two o'clock 
the 1st Wurtemburg and the 7th Prussian Brigades 
had established themselves in the line from the 
churchyard of Champigny to Bois-de-la-Lande. 

Meanwhile, the French divisions, imder Belle- 
mare and Susbielle, had reached the battlefield 
from the right bank of the Mame. The two 
(German) battalions at Bry, having already lost 
thirty-six officers and 638 men, were compelled, 
on the approach of the enemy in very superior 
force, to evacuate the village and retire on 
Noisy, but not without taking 300 prisoners with 
them. The remainder of the Saxon forces held 
Villiers, where the batteries still available also 
took up a position. 

When, at two o'clock, the French were leading 
a strong body of artillery to this point, fom' bat- 
teries of the Ilnd Corps rushed out of the hollow 
near the Hunting-lodge at full gallop, and opened 
fire at 2000 paces on their flank. In scarcely ten 

i6 The Franco-German War, 

minutes the French batteries retired and the 
Prussians went back to their sheltered position, 
Several of the enemy's battalions which, at about 
three o'clock, attempted a renewed assault on 
ViUiers, were repulsed with less difficulty, and at 
five o'clock the fighting ceased. Only the French 
kept up a fire of field and fortress artillery until 
after dark. 

General Ducrot had received information, in 
the course of the day, that the Army of the Loire 
was marching on Fontainebleau, and he therefore 
determined to mamtain, if possible, his position 
outside Paris. 

During the night of December 3rd, provi- 
sions had been procured, also additional teams and 
ammimition for the batteries ; but the advance of 
support from without was by no means confirmed. 

The troops were completely exhausted by the 
disastrous fighting they had gone through, and the 
Commander-in-Chief was justified in dreading a 
repulse on the Mame from the enemy's invigorated 
forces. He therefore ordered a retreat, the troops 
being informed that the attack should be renewed 
as soon as they were once more in a condition to 

Soon after midnight the divisions were already 
drawn up behind the outposts, and the baggage 
trains were sent back first. At noon the troops 

Repulse of the French. 17 

were able to follow over the bridges at Neuilly, 
Bry, and Joinville. Only one brigade remained to 
protect the passage. 

The retreat was very skilfully covered by a 
series of small attacks on the German outposts. 
The French batteries had opened fire at Le-Plant 
and Bry by daybreak, and the withdrawal of the 
enemy's army was completely hidden by the thick 

Greneral Fransecky assembled the Saxon and the 
Wurtemburg Divisions in fighting order atVilliers 
and Coeuilly, the 7th Brigade with the artillery 
of the Ilnd Corps and two regiments of the 
Vlth at Chennevieres, intending to wait for the 
expected reinforcement of the 4th which was to 
come from the Vlth Corps. The 23rd Division 
received orders from the Crown Prince of Saxony 
to cross to the left bank of the Mame, whilst the 
corps of Guards had in the meantime extended 
their outposts to Chelles. 

Matters remained so on the 3rd, with the except 
tion of petty frays, and at four o'clock in the after- 
noon the troops returned to quarters. But early 
on the 4th, as the patrols rode out towards Bry 
and Champigny, they foimd these places vacated, 
and the peninsula of Joinville deserted by the 

The French Und Army, which had been severely 

VOL. II. c 

1 8 The Franco-German War. 

reduced and its discipline much shaken, turned 
back to Paris ; by their own statement they had 
lost 12,000 men. The Germans had lost 6200 
men, but took up the position again that they had 
previously held in the investing lines. 

This determined attempt on the part of General 
Ducrot is the most serious effort that was made to 
break out of Paris. It was directed towards what 
was at the moment the weakest point of the in- 
vestment, but only met "vvith good results at the 

The Advance of the 1st Army in November. 

The newly-formed army in the north of France 
had not remained inactive. Rouen and Lille were 
its chief centres. In front of Lille, the Somme 
with its fortified passages at Ham, Pdronne, 
Amiens and Abbeville afforded a field equally 
advantageous for attacks in front or for a secure 
retreat. The advance of the French in independent 
columns had, indeed, on various occasions, been 

' A legend was subsequently circulated that the voice of 
one general at one of the German councils of war had, in oppo- 
sition to all the others, prevented the removal of the chief 
head-quarters from Versailles. Apart from the fact that during 
the whole course of the invasion no council of war was ever 
held, it never occurred to any member of the King's military 
suite to set so bad an example to the army. 

Advance of the 1st German Army. 19 

checked by detachments of the Army of the 
Meuse, and they were not strong enough to rid 
themselves permanently of that incubus. 

We have already seen how, after the fall of 
Metz, the Ilnd Army retired towards the Loire, 
and the 1st into the northern departments of 

A large portion of the 1st Army was detained 
as far back as the Moselle by the transport of the 
numerous prisoners and by the watch kept at the 
fortresses which interrupted the communications 
with Germany, The whole of the Vllth Corps 
were either in Metz or before Diedenhof and 
Montmddy. Of the 1st Corps, the 1st Division 
had been withdrawn to Rethel, the 4th Brigade 
had been carried forward by railway beyond Sois- 
sons to the investment of La-F^re, and the 3rd 
Division of Cavalry had been sent on towards 
the Forest of Argonnes. The remaining five bri- 
gades followed with the artillery on the 7th 

Marching on a wide front, they had already reached 
the Oise, between Compiegne and Chaimy, on the 
20th. In front of the right wing the cavalry, 
supported by a battalion of Jagers, came across 
the Garde-Mobile at Ham and Guiscard, but the 
French forces retired to Amiens on the advance 
of the infantry columns. It was uixderstood that 


20 The Franco-German War. 

15,000 men were there, and reinforcements con- 
tinually joining them. 

On the 25th the 3rd Brigade reached Le-Ques- 
nel. Of the Vllth Corps, the 15th Division suc- 
ceeded in getting beyond Montdidier, and the 16th 
as far as Breteuil, whence they established com- 
munication Tvith the Saxon forces at Clermont. 

On the 26th the right wing started for Le-Ques- 
nel, the left for Moreuil and Essertaux. The 
cavalry made incursions across the Somme, the 
right bank of which they foimd occupied by the 
French. The enemy's attitude showed that they 
restricted themselves to the defence of that 
position. General von Manteuflfel thereupon de- 
termined to attack, without waiting for the arrival 
of the 1st Division, which had been inexplicably 
delayed on the way by railway from Rethel. 
He wanted first, on the 27th, to concentrate his 
available forces on a smaller front, as they were 
spread out over an extent of four miles, but the 
battle was unexpectedly fought on that same day. 

Battle of Amiens. 

(November 17th.) 

General Farre, with his 17,500 men divided into 
three brigades, stood on one side of Amiens, on the 
south bank of the Somme, at Villers-Bretonneux, 

Battle of Amiens. 21 

and at Longueau, on the road to Peronne, keeping 
possession of the villages and the copses on his 
front. Besides these there were 8000 Gardes- 
Mobiles half a mile in front of the town in 
intrenched positions. 

In accordance with the instructions from head- 
quarters, General von Goeben had arranged that 
the 15th Division should take up their quarters 
at Fouencamps and Sains on the 27th ; the 
16th at Rumigny and Plachy, and in the vil- 
lages further back ; the Artillery Corps at Gratte- 
panche. The Vlllth Corps had to assemble before 
Amiens between the Celle and the Noye, standing 
at least half a mile from the 1st Corps, and divided 
from them by the Noye and the Avre. General 
von Bentheim, on the other side, had directed his 
advanced guard, the 3rd Brigade, to find quarters 
north of the Luce. 

At an early hour the Germans seized the fords 
of the stream at D^muin, Hangard, and Domart. 
At ten o'clock they moved forward in order to 
occupy the quarters intended for them, and as the 
enemy were already in possession, a fight began 
which gradually increased in magnitude. 

The wooded heights on the north bank of the 
Luce were taken without any particular resistance, 
and maintained in spite of several assaults by the 
French. The artillery advanced in the intervals. 

22 The Franco-German War. 

On the left the 4th Regiment seized the village 
of Gentelles, on the right the 44th Regiment 
rushed up to within 300 paces of the left wing of 
the French position, and by a vigorous onslaught 
carried by storm the earthworks at the railway- 
cutting east of Villers-Bretonneux. Soon after 
mid-day a strong force of the enemy drew up 
at Bretonneux and in Cachy, directly opposite 
the 3rd Brigade, which was extended nearly a 

On the left wing of the Germans the 16th 
Division had by eleven o'clock already reached 
the quarters assigned to them, and had driven 
the enemy out of H^becourt, as well as out of the 
woods north of this place towards Dury. When 
the Vlllth Corps was called out on the left bank 
of the Noye, the 15th Division was moved from 
Moreuil along the left bank of the Noye by way of 
AiUy to Dommartin, and the advanced guard from 
HaiUes marched on Fouencamps. 

Thus it happened that before noon, betAveen the 
two Corps, the roads from Roye and Mondidier 
were left completely exposed on the German side, 
while a French brigade was standing at the fork 
of the road at Longueau, though, in fact, it re- 
mained absolutely inactive. 

This interval was at first screened only by the 
numerous retinue and the staff of the Commander- 

Battle of Amiens. 23 

in-Chief; and then it was to some extent filled up 
by the battalions constituting the escort of the 
head-quarters. As, however, at ten o'clock the 
French on their side commenced an attack on the 
3rd Brigade, General von Manteuffel ordered the 
15th Division to join in the fight as far as pos- 
sible on the right wing. 

After a steady defence, the companies of the 
4th Regiment were driven back out of the Wood of 
Hangard towards the slope of the hill in front of 
Ddmuin, and subsequently, after having fired away 
all their ammunition, the defenders of Gentelles 
were driven back to Domart. 

General von Strubberg, instructed from the camp 
beyond the Luce, had sent four batteries in this 
direction, which crossed the Avre, but came imder 
such a heavy fire from the Wood of Gentelles that 
their further advance was prevented, and they had 
to change front on the copse. Behind them, how- 
ever, the other detachments of the 30th Brigade 
pressed forward to St.-Nicolas on the right bank, 
and to Boves on the left, and with the help of the 
29th Brigade drove out the French from the heap 
of ruins. 

Meanwhile a part of the 1st German Division, 
which was retiring, had come up behind the 3rd 
Brigade. The -position of the artillery was con- 
siderably strengthened, and the guns were directed 

24 The Franco-German War. 

against the earthworks south of Bretonncux. As 
further support the Crown Prince's Regiment 
marched out, and the French were again soon 
driven out of the Bois-de-Hangard. The East 
Prussians, wlio were following, crouched behind 
the earthworks ; several detachments of the 4th 
and 44th Regiments gradually collected there from 
the neighbouring woods, and drove the enemy 
from this position. Thirteen batteries now silenced 
the French artillery, and, after they had fired for 
some time on Bretonneux, the place was, at fom* 
o'clock, seized by the Prussians, who came in from 
all sides with drums beating. The French in the 
town only opposed them at a few places ; for the 
most part they hurried over the Somme at Corbie 
under cover of the darkness, and with the loss of 
180 unwounded prisoners. 

When, somewhat later, General Lecointe ad- 
vanced with the reserve brigade on Domart, he 
found the place already in possession of the 1st 
Division, so turned back. The French only suc- 
ceeded in holding Cachy till late in the evening. 

The troops of the 1st Corps were accommodated 
for the night in the hamlets to the south of the 
Luce ; the outposts remained on duty on the north 
bank, and Bretonneux also was occupied. 

On the left wing of the battle-field the 16th 
Division had advanced on Dury, had driven 

Battle of Amiens. 25 

the French out of the neighbouring churchyard, 
but had been forced to retire from an attack on 
the enemy's lines of intrenchment, which were 
extensive and strongly defended. They bivouacked 
behind Dury. 

It was night before General von Manteuffel 
received news of the enemy's complete defeat. 
Early in the morning of the 28th the patrols of 
the 1st Army Corps foimd the ground clear of 
the enemy as far as the Somme, and all the 
bridges across the river demolished. By noon 
General von Goeben returned to Amiens, and the 
citadel capitulated two days later with 400 men 
and 30 cannon. 

One peculiarity of the battle of the 27th No- 
vember is the small extent of the battle-field in 
proportion to the number of the troops engaged. 
General Farre, with 25,000 men in roimd num- 
bers, covered a front of three miles from Pont-de- 
Metz, south of Amiens, to the east of ViUers-Bre- 
tonneux, with the Somme close on his rear. As 
the Germans attacked on about the same length 
of front, there was a break in their centre. The 
danger caused by this gap was not taken advan- 
tage of during the morning through the inactivity 
of the enemy, and it was then nullified by the 
occupation of St.-Nicolas. 

The superiority of numbers was on the side of 

26 The Franco-German War, 

the Germans, for, although of the 1st Division in 
their rear, only the Crown Prince's Regiment could 
take part in the fighting, they were 30,000 strong. 
The 3rcl Brigade had borne the brunt of the 
battle, losing 630 men and 34 officers, out of a 
total of 1300. The French also lost 1300 killed, 
besides 1000 reported missing. Part of the Na- 
tional Guard threw down their arms and fled for 
their homes. The main body of the French Corps 
retired on Amiens. 

Immediately after the battle the 1st Army was 
reinforced by the 4th Brigade, which had been 
brought from La-Fere. 

The Taking of La-FIire. 

(November 27th.) 

This little fortress had become quite important, 
since it closed the line of railway passing through 
Rheims, whether to Paris or to Amiens. Lying 
in low open ground, well watered by the Somme 
and its tributaries, it is difficult of access ; other- 
wise, the fortifications were restricted to a wall 
standing apart, with small earthworks lying close 
in front of it, and it was entirely exposed to view 
from the heights situated on the east at a distance 
of not more than 1500 metres. 


The brigade had temporarily invested La-F^re 
on the 15th November, and when the siege-train 
arrived from Soissons with thirty-frsvo heavy guns, 
seven batteries were constructed and armed during 
the night of the 25 th on the heights already men- 
tioned. On the following morning these opened 
fire, and on the 27th the place capitulated. 2300 
Gardes-Mobiles were taken prisoners, and the most 
serviceable of the 113 guns were carried to Amiens 
to arm the citadel. The Vllth Corps, which was 
to have supported the 1st Army, meanwhile never 
appeared in sight, because they still had further 
work to do on the Moselle ; on the 13th November 
the greater part of the 14th Di\dsion had only 
reached Diedenhof. 

The Taking of Diedenhof. 

(November 24th.) 

This fortress, being shut in on all sides by hills, 
was entirely without bomb-proof space ; the direct 
approach from the south was, on the other hand, 
rendered more difficult by inimdations, and on the 
west and north by marsh-lands. General von 
Kameke therefore decided to await the results of a 
heavy bombardment before making a regular at- 
tack. Batteries were erected on both banks of the 

28 The Franco-German War. 

Moselle, and on the morning of the 22nd eighty-five 
guns opened fire. At first the fortress answered 
briskly. In the following night, to lay the first 
parallel, the infantry advanced to within 600 paces 
on the west front, but, in consequence of pouring 
rain and the condition of the ground, the work 
made but small progress. However, on the 24th 
at mid-day the commandant sent in negotiations 
for the surrender of the place. The garrison, 4000 
men strong, with the exception of the National 
Guard stationed in the place, was captured and 
sent to Germany ; and 199 guns, besides a consider- 
able amount of provisions, arms and ammimition, 
fell into the hands of the victorious troops. 

The 14th Division was now required to lay siege 
to the forts on the northern frontier, which would 
occupy it for some time. TTie 13th Division was, 
by orders from head-quarters, directed to commence 
operations in the south of France. 

The Investment of Belfort in November. 

On the south-east of the seat of war Belfort had 
become the centre of continuous small engagements 
between French scouts and the rear of the XlVth 
Corps, which, imder General von Werder, stood 
near Vesoul. 

However, when the Divisions which up till then 

Battle of Orleans. 29 

had been standing before Strasburg had been 
relieved by a new contingent from Germany, the 
troops that were at Neu-Breisach were available, 
and these forces marched in the direction of Upper 
Alsace ; while the 1st Reserve Division had reached 
Belfort by the 3rd November, and by the 8th had 
effected the preliminary investment of that place. 
The larger half of the 4th Reserve Division had 
marched to combine with the XlVth Corps at 
Vesoul, a detachment under General von Debschitz 
occupied Montb^liard, and the 67th Regiment held 
Mulhouse and Delle. 

If we glance back at the German successes 
during November and the general military position 
towards the end of the month, we see the grand 
sortie from Paris repulsed in the north, the 
danger of being hemmed in done away with by 
General von Manteuffel's victory at Amiens ; in the 
east, Diedenhof, Breisach, Verdun and La-Fere 
taken, Montm^dy and Belfort surrounded ; and in 
the south Prince Frederick Charles preparing to 
attack the French army at Orleans. 

Battle of Orleans. 

(December 3rd and 4th.) 

When the telegraphic order was received by 
the Ilnd Army, soon after noon on the 2nd of 

30 The Franco-German War. 

December, the Prince on the same day assembled 
the Xth Corps at Beaune-la-Rolande and Boynes, 
the Ilird at Pithiviers, and the IX th at Bazoches- 
les-Gallerandes. By evening the collected forces 
had their marching orders. 

The attack was expected to take place two days 
later. The Illrd Corps was first to advance on 
Loury by way of Chilleurs-aux-Bois ; the Xth 
only on Chilleurs ; the IXth, however, were to 
attack Artenay at half-past nine. The 1st Division 
of Cavalry, supported by the infantry on the left 
wing, was to keep a look-out over the Yonne ; the 
6th was to follow the right wing. The Grand 
Duke, to whom it had been left to plan his own 
march on the west of the road to Paris, ordered 
the 22nd Division to assist in the attack on 
Artenay, the Bavarian Corps to advance on 
Lumeau, the 17th Division to remain at Anneux. 
The 4th Division of Cavalry was to scour the 
country on the left flank. 

Already by nine o'clock in the morning on the 
3rd of December the Ilird Corps met eight 
battalions and six batteries of the French at 
Santeau. The 12th Brigade and the artillery of 
the 6th Division, which had been marched up in the 
rear of the foremost battalions in the column of 
route, therefore formed line at La-Brosse. After 
a few rounds, one of the batteries of the left wing 

Battle of Orleans. 31 

had to be withdrawn from the battle, which had 
now commenced ; on the right, on the contrary, the 
Artillery Corps came up by degrees, and by noon 
seventy-eight Prussian guns were in full action. 

The French, yielding to such superior strength, 
retired on Chilleurs ; but, after the German 
batteries had advanced 'within 2000 paces of that 
place, and their right flank had been threatened 
by an assault from the Jager battalions, they com- 
menced a retreat towards the forest, and at three 
o'clock part of the 5th Division followed them up 
by the path which led to the south, and the 6th 
by the high-roads. As these had been obstructed 
in several places, it was six o'clock in the evening 
before the clearing by Loury was reached. 

On the right, brisk musketry-fire was heard in 
the direction of Neuville, and an announcement 
also arrived that on the left the French were 
occupjdng Nancray. 

In consequence of this, some of the reserve forces 
that had remained at Chilleurs were brought up 
as a support ; one regiment was fronted towards 
the west, a second towards the east, and, imder 
cover of the outposts on the south, the remainder 
of the troops bivouacked and went into quarters at 

The IXth Corps had at first assembled at 
Ch&teau-Gaillard, on the road to Paris, and then 

32 The Franco-German War. 

advanced along the high-road and against Villereaii 
by way of Dambron, 

At Assas they met the French, who were soon 
driven back by the guns, and vanished towards 
Artenay. At about ten o'clock an obstinate duel 
was opened with the batteries of the 2nd Division 
(French) in position at this place, in which part of 
the Corps' artillery bore a part, seconded presently 
by the batteries of the 22nd Division, which had 
come up to Poupry. General Martineau slowly 
retreated in echelon before the overwhelming fire 
of ninety guns, the artillery leading the way, on 
La-Croix-Briquet and Ferme-d'Arblay. By twelve 
o'clock the Germans were in possession of Artenay, 
and after half an hour's rest they renewed the 
attack. It was a long and obstinate duel of artil- 
lery and infantry alike, while the 22nd Division 
pushed hard on the French left flank. At two 
o'clock their guns were silenced, the left wing 
column of the IXth German Corps took the farm 
of Arblay, and the centre drove the enemy down 
the high-road, fighting persistently, past La-Croix- 
Briquet to Andeglou, where, under cover of the 
marine ordnance, resistance was kept up till dark. 

General Puttkamer had brought up five batteries 
to within 800 paces of CheviUy, and the 22nd 
Division was advancing on the burning village, 
when the general in command gave the order to 

Fighting round Orleans. ^^ 

halt, the Grand Duke doubting the wisdom of a 
night attack on an intrenched position. But when, 
soon after, a patrol of Hussars announced that it 
was already evacuated, General von Wittich ordered 
his men to take possession. 

The troops bivouacked, under a heavy snow- 
storm, in and to the rear of La-Croix-Briquet. 

At the first advance the IXth Corps had sent a 
detachment of four battalions of Hessians against 
St.-Ly6 on the left. They had met the enemy at 
La-Tour, and had driven him back on St.-Germain, 
but could not drive him out again. 

When the Xth Corps, marching round by Pithi- 
viers, reached Chilleurs at about three o'clock, in 
the rear of the Ilird Corps, part of the 20th Divi- 
sion went on in the direction of the battle at 
Neuville, which, in the evening, became audible at 
Loury. Darkness had already come on and pre- 
cluded the use of artillery, but the infantry broke 
into the village at several points. However, they 
found the streets barricaded, and met with obsti- 
nate resistance, so the attack had to be postponed 
till the following day. 

The XVth French Corps had alone received the 
onslaught of three Prussian Corps. Strong con- 
tingents of the Army of the Loire, posted to the 
right and left of the XVth Corps, made but feeble 
efforts throughout the day to support it. General 


34 The Franco-German War. 

Chanzy alone, at about two o'clock, ordered the 
2nd Division of the XVIth Corps to advance when 
he heard firing from Artenay, though he had that 
morning begun his retreat on St. P^ravy and 
Boulay. But this reinforcement met the Prussian 
17th Division, which, coming up from Anneux, 
was on the point of joining in the fight at Ande- 
glou, and with it the Bavarian Corps advancing 
from Lumeau. Their strong artillerj^, in position 
at Chameul and Sougy, soon forced the French to 
retire. First Douzy and then Huetre were taken, 
and the chateau of Chevilly occupied by the 17th 
Division. Here too darkness put an end to the 
fighting. The troops of the right wing encamped at 
Provencheres, Chameul and other places to the rear. 

Thus the German army had made its way with- 
out much fighting to within two miles of Orleans. 
The French, indeed, had maintained their ground till 
evening in the neighbourhood of Neuville, but the 
detachments stationed there were ordered to retire in 
the course of the night. They were to get into the 
Pithiviers road by Rebrechien, and make a circuit by 
Orleans to Chevilly. But they thus came under the 
fire of thellird German Corps, encamped at Lomy, 
and fled in disorder back into the wood, whence they 
attempted to rjBach their destination in detachments. 

It was i only to be expected that the French would 
stoutly defend their intrenchments at Gidy and Cer- 

Fighting round Orleans. 35 

cottes, on the following day, if only to keep open 
their retreat on Orleans. On the 4th, therefore, 
Prince Frederick Charles ordered the Grand Duke's 
forces and the IXth Corps to attack both points 
from all sides. The Ilird Corps was to advance 
from Loury on Orleans, and the Xth, again forming 
the reserve, was to follow on CheviUy. 

General d'Aurelle had returned in the evening to 
Saran. Here he saw the 2nd Division of the XVth 
flying past in complete rout, and heard that the 1st 
too had failed to make a stand at Chilleurs. The 
Corps of the right wing were altogether shattered 
by the battle of Beaune, and those of the left no 
less by the fight at Loigny. The French General 
saw the danger of being driven on the Loire, with 
undisciplined hordes, and thus blocking the only 
passage across the river at Orleans. He decided 
therefore on a divergent retreat. Only the XVth 
Corps was to retire by Orleans ; General Crouzat 
was to cross the Loire at Gien, General Chanzy at 
Beaugency. Then their reunion must be attempted 
beyond the Sauldre. The necessary dispositions 
were made during the night, and communicated to 
the Government. From the Green Table at Tours, 
indeed, counter orders came next morning, to main- 
tain the position at Orleans, which was, in fact, 
already given up ; but the General adhered to his 
own determination. 

D 2 

36 The Franco-German War. 

On December 4th the Illrd Army Corps (Ger- 
man) marched out of Lomy in two columns, one by 
the high road and one by Vennecy. Both reached 
Boigny by noon, having met none but deserters. 

A detachment was sent on to Neuville on the 
right, and captured seven deserted guns and stands 
of arms. To the left, another detachment occupied 
Ch^zy, on the Loire. After a short rest the main 
columns advanced, and by two o'clock the 6th 
Division reached Vaumainbert, which was occupied 
by part of the French XVth Corps. Although 
the country was not open enough to allow of the 
emplojrment of artillery, the place was taken by 
the Brandenburgers, in spite of the stout resist- 
ance of the French Marine Infantry, and the fire of 
the batteries on the heights to the north of St.- 
Loup could now be directed on that suburb of 

The 5th Division had meanwhile come up behind 
the 6th and taken part in the fight. 

The XXth French Corps, which was still at 
Chambon, in the eastern part of the forest opposite 
Beaune-la-Rolande, had received orders at four in 
the morning, from Tours direct, to march on Orleans. 
Contradictory orders had previously arrived from 
General d'Aurelle, but nothing further had been 
heard. General Crouzat had, as a precaution, sent 
his train across the Loire at Jargeau, arid then 
marched in the direction he was ordered to take. 

Fighting round Orleans. 37 

When, at half-past two, at Pont-aux-Moines, he 
met the detachment marching on Ch6zy, he deter- 
mined to fight his way across ; but as General von 
Stiilpnagel reinforced his two battalions by bring- 
ing up the rest of his Division, the French gave 
up the attempt and withdrew to the other side of 
the river, crossing again at Jargeau. 

On the German side the attack on St. -Loup was 
tmsuccessful ; and since from the site of the battle 
he got no news of the other Corps, and dark- 
ness was coming on, General von Alvensleben 
postponed any further attack on the city till the 
following day. 

To the north of Orleans the IXth Anny Corps 
(German) had advanced from La-Croix-Briquet on 
the intrenched position of Cercottes. At about 
one o'clock the foremost detachments of infantry 
entered the place. The 2nd Division of the French 
XVth Corps was driven by the fire of the artillery 
into the vineyards outside the town. Here the 
infantry alone could continue the struggle. The 
French defended every tenable spot, and in the 
railway station just outside Orleans especially held 
their own with great persistency. The station and 
the deep cutting through which the road ran were 
fortified with barricades and rifle-pits, and armed 
with naval guns. It was not till nightfall, at 
about half-past five, that they abandoned this posi- 
tion, but renewed the contest a little further back. 

38 The Franco-German War. 

To avoid street-fighting in the dark, General von 
Manstein put a stop to the battle at about seven 
o'clock, till next day. 

The advanced guard of the 17th Division of the 
Grand Duke's forces had found Gidy intrenched 
and strongly occupied. But at the approach of the 
IXth Corps the French abandoned the position at 
about eleven o'clock, leaving 8 guns behind them. 
The German Di^dsion, to avoid the wood, now 
marched to the west, on Boulay, whither the 22nd 
and the 2nd Cavalry Division followed as a resene. 

They here found the Bavarian Corps and the 4th 
Cavalry Di^dsion engaged in a fight, having already 
driven the French out of Bricy and Janvry. When 
the artillery had for some time been engaged 
General von der Tann stormed the position, at 
about twelve o'clock. But the French did not 
wait for this ; they beat a hasty retreat, leaving 
some of their guns in the trenches. The 2nd 
Cavalry Division followed in pursuit. 

The 4th Hussars, of the 5th Brigade, galloping 
past Montaigu, charged a French unlimbered 
battery and seized all the guns ; another at Ormes 
was brought out of action by a horse battery. 
From thence a strong body of French horse 
suddenly appeared on the left flank of the 4th 
Brigade as these were crossing the road to Ch&teau- 
dun. But Blucher's Hussars, with a sharp swerve. 

Fighting round Orleans. 39 

drove the enemy through the village and back on 

The 4th Cavalry Division was placed to watch 
on the Grand Duke's right flank ; and the Hussars 
here charged 250 men of the 2nd Life Guards, 
forming the escort of a baggage-train on the road 
to Chdteaudun, and took them all prisoners. 

While the Germans were thus converging on 
Orleans from the north and east, the French 
XVIIth Corps and the 1st Division of the XVIth 
were still in the field at Patay and St. P^ravy. 
General Chanzy had assembled the latter at 
Coinces, and, to protect himself against their 
threatened attack in flank, General von der Tann 
drew up his 3rd Infantry Brigade, with the Cuiras- 
siers and artillery resen^e, on a front towards Bricy. 
The 4th Cavalry Division marched on Coinces, 
where General von Bemhardi, leaping a Avide 
ditch, with four squadrons of Uhlans, drove a body 
of French horse back on St. Peravy without their 
stopping to do more than fire one volley. Other 
squadrons of the 9th Brigade charged the French 
tirailleurs, and pursued the cavalry till they had 
fallen back on a strong body of infantry. The 8th 
Brigade was observing Patay, and after that place 
had come under the fire of a battery and been 
abandoned, General Chanzy gave up all further 
attack and retired behind the wood of Montpipeau. 

40 The Franco-German War. 

The 2nd Cavalry Division now made for the 
Loire immediately below Orleans. Its artillery 
destroyed a bridge at Chapelle o^'er which a 
baggage-train was passing, and compelled the troops 
which were marching on Clery, along the further 
bank, to fly back to Orleans. Two military rail- 
way-trains from thence were not to be stopped by 
the firing, but one from Tours, in which, as it 
happened, was Gambetta himself, returned thither 
with all speed. 

The Bavarian Corps, meanwhile, had advanced 
on the high road, and the 22nd Division, in touch 
with the IXth Corps, on the old Chateaudun road ; 
the 17th Division on La-Borde between the other 
two. This Division was called upon at about 3.30 
to take the village of Heurdy, which was stoutly 
defended ; and when the Bavarians from Ormes had 
turned to the right on Indre, it proceeded by the 
high road towards v St.-Jean-de-la-Ruelle. Having 
overcome all opposition there too, the head of the 
Division reached the gates of Orleans at about six 

General von Tresckow there negociated with 
the military authorities the formal occupation of 
the town. An agreement was arrived at by ten 
o'clock, and shortly after midnight the Grand Duke 
marched in with the 17th Division followed by the 
2nd Bavarian Brigade. 

The bridge over the Loire was forthwith secured 

Occupation of Orleans. 41 

th3 French not having had time to blow it up. 
The rest of the troops found quarters to the west 
and north of the city. 

The peremptory orders from the Government to 
hold Orleans had shaken General d' Aurelle's original 
determination. When the greater part of the XVth 
Corps (French) arrived there in the forenoon, he 
wanted to renew the attempt at resistance. But 
the necessary orders could not be transmitted to the 
Corps on the right wing, nor carried out by those 
on the left ; and by five o'clock the General in com- 
mand was convinced of the futility of any further 
conflict. The artillery of the XVth Corps was first 
transfeiTed to La-Ferte-St.-Aubin ; the infantry 
followed. The XXth Corps, as we have seen, was 
at Jargeau ; the XVIIIth had recrossed the Loire 
at Sully ; the XVIth and XVIIth moved off west- 
ward in the direction of Beaugency, but remained 
on the right bank of the river. 

The battle, which had lasted two days, had cost 
the Germans 1700 men; the French lost 20,000, 
of whom 1800 were taken prisoners. Their large 
army, lately massed before Orleans, was now spht 
up into three separate bodies. 

The German Advance on the South, East, 
AND West. 

The troops were too much exhausted for 
immediate pursuit in any direction. 

42 The Franco-German War. 

It was decided that the 6th Cavaby Division, re- 
inforced by an infantry detiachment of the 18th Divi- 
sion, should follow up the enemy to the southward 
only, ascertain his whereabouts, and destroy the 
connection of the railways from Bourges, Orleans 
and Tours at the Vierzon junction. These Cavalry 
troops were in quarters to the north of the city ; the 
French XVth had a long start of them, and their 
main body had reached Salbris, when, two days 
after the battle, on December 6th, General von 
Schmidt arrived by a forced march at La-Ferte-St.- 
Aubin. Here he found a detachment of the 18th 
Division, which had already driven the French 
rear-guard back on La-Motte-Beuvron and was now 
ordered to retire on the Loiret. Only two com- 
panies of the 36th Regiment and one of Pioneers 
joined the advance, and followed the cavalry partly 
in baggage-waggons and on gun-limbers. 

On the 7th, under orders from Tours, the French 
left the high road and executed a flank movement 
of four miles in an easterly direction to Aubigny- 
Ville. The cavalry, supported to the best of their 
power by their artillery and the small infantry 
force, had a smart fight with the French rear- 
guard at Nouan-le-Fuzelier, and again in the even- 
ing at Salbris, in which the French finally had the 
best of it. The neighbourhood being very thinly 
populated, the Division had to get back in the dark 

General German Advance. 43 

to Nouan, to find shelter from the bitter winter 

Long before daybreak on the 8th, the French 
rear-guard had left Salbris to avoid a farther 
encounter Tvith the enemy, whose strength they 
greatly over-estimated. 

After some slight skirmishes the Cavalry Divi- 
sion reached Vierzon that evening. The telegraph 
wires were cut and the railway line torn up in 
several places, 70 goods' vans were armour-plated, 
the direction of the enemy's retreat reported, and 
any offensive movement on the part of the French 
from that side was regarded as most improbable. 

The Division had fulfilled its task ; it was now 
ordered to leave one brigade as a corps of obser- 
vation, and to advance on Blois with the rest. 
General von der Groeben maintained his positions 
at Vierzon and Salbris till the 14th. 

The winter campaign of this 6th Cavalry Divi- 
sion was exceptionally fatiguing. It was almost 
impossible to move excepting along the high roads, 
and they were frozen so hard that it was often 
necessary to dismount and lead the horses. The 
inhabitants of the Sologne district were extremely 
hostile, the advanced troopers were shot down in 
every village. The French forces, on the other hand, 
made but a feeble resistance. Numerous prisoners 
and large quantities of abandoned materiel bore 

44 The Franco-German War. 

witness to a hasty retreat, in many cases to despe- 
rate flight. Nevertheless, in spite of much pur- 
poseless marching and counter-marching, the Corps 
of the right wing had by December 13th succeeded 
in joining the Army of Orleans at Bourges. 

The state in which they arrived may be gathered 
from the telegraphic Correspondence Urgente of the 
Government with General Bourbaki, who, when 
General d'Aurelle was deprived of the command 
in chief, took that of these three Corps. 

Monsieur Freycinet, who was no doubt kept well 
informed by the country people, assured General 
Bourbaki that only a weak force of cavalry stood 
in front of him, and repeatedly urged his 
advancing on Blois. The General replied that if 
he were to make the attempt, not a gun, not a man 
of his three Corps would ever be seen again. His 
intention was to retreat at once from Bourges on 
St.-Amand, and if necessary yet further to the 
rear; the only danger was that he might be 
attacked before he could accomplish this, and be 
involved in disaster. 

The Minister of War himself went to Bourges, 
but he too renounced all idea .of an offensive 
movement when he saw the disorder of the troops. 
" Cest encore ce que fai vu de plus triste" It 
was with great difficulty that he persuaded the 
Corps not to retreat at once, but to await the 

The Grand Duke's Battle. 45 

course of events, under cover of a detachment 
pushed forward on Vierzon. 

On the day when General Schmidt entered 
Vierzon, the XVth Corps was in the neighbour- 
hood of Henrichemont, at about an equal distance 
with himself from Bourges. The XVIIIth and 
XXth Corps were at Aubigny-Ville and Cemay, 
from two to three marches away. 

It can scarcely be doubted that, if the 18th Divi- 
sion had followed the advance of the 6th Cavalry 
Division, the Germans might have taken possession 
of Bourges and of the vast military stores there. 

To the east of Orleans the Ilird Corps had 
marched up the river on Chdteauneuf. They only 
met parties of stragglers till the 7th, when two 
Divisions of the XVIIIth French Corps attempted 
to cross to the right bank of the Loire at Gien. 
This resulted in an engagement biBtween the ad- 
vanced guards at Nevoy, with the result that these 
Divisions retreated across the bridge in the course 
of the night and continued their march on Bourges. 

The Grand Duke's Battle. 

(December 7th, 8th, 9th, and 10th.) 

The Grand Duke's forces were in a position close 
to the retreating left wing of the French. In 

46 The Franco-German War. 

contrast to the disorder of the right wing, General 
Chanzy, certainly the most capable of all the 
leaders whose duty it became to fight the invaders 
in the open field, had, in a great measure, restored 
the discipline and spirit of his troops. They were 
not only able to make a stand, but could even 
attack the enemy. They had, indeed, been con- 
siderably reinforced by the newly formed XXIst 
Corps and by Cam6's Division. The latter formed 
the advanced guard at Meung ; behind it were 
the XVIth Corps at Beaugency, the XVIIth at 
Cravant, and the XXIst at St.-Laurent by the 
woods of Marchenoir. 

On the day after the fight the Grand Duke 
gave the troops a day's rest; only the cavalry 
pursued the French. The 4th Cavalry Division 
reached Ouzouer ; the 2nd, arriving at Meung, met 
a strong force of infantry. 

On the 7th, the Grand Duke's forces advanced 
on a very wide front. The 17th Division, on the 
left wing, marched on Meung, where its artillery 
opened a duel with that of the enemy. Towards 
four o'clock, a Mecklenburg battalion carried 
Langlochere by storm, but found itself threatened 
on both sides by the approach of the enemy's 
columns. On the left Foinard was ere long 
taken and a gun seized, while on the right the 
1st Bavarian Brigade advanced on La Bourie. 
Here, almost at the same moment, the 2nd Cavalry 

Tub Grand Duke's Battle. 47 

Division came up by by-roads from Renardierc, 
having driven the enemy out of Le-Bardon by 
the fire of its guns. The Bavarians now marched 
out to meet the mass of French approaching from 
Grand-Chatre. They fought a hard battle till 
nightfall, supported by the horse batteries, ending 
in the retreat of the French on Beaumont. 

During this conflict of the left wing, the Grand 
Duke's Army, the 1st Bavarian Di\dsion, had 
marched a considerable distance on Baccon, and 
the 22nd on Ouzouer ; and then, finding the French 
offered a determined resistance, the Grand Duke 
decided on closing up his forces to the left. 

December Sth. — ^To this end the 22nd Division 
advanced to the south of Ouzouer on Villermain. 
After repulsing the swarms of tirailleurs which 
attacked their left flank \mder cover of a fog, 
General von Wittich directed his march on Cra- 
vant, to effect a junction with the right wing of 
Bavarians who were already engaged in a hot 
struggle. They had repulsed the enemy's advance 
i from Villechaumont and had advanced with the 

\ 2nd Division alon^ the road from Cravant to Beau- 

\ gency; when all three French Divisions charged 

1 afresh, the Bavarians retreated on Beaumont. Here 

they found support from the former and 17 
batteries, which were gradiially brought into the 
\ fighting Ime. Their fire and an impetuous attack 

, from three Bavarian brigades at last forced the 


48 The Franco-German War. 

enemy to fall back, and the position in the high 
road was recovered. 

The French now, on their side, brought up a 
strong body of artillery, and the XVIIth Corps 
prepared to advance on Cravant. But the 22nd 
German Division had already arrived there at 
about one o'clock, after taking Beauvert and 
Layes, with the 4th Cavalry Division on their right 
and the 2nd on their left. So when, at about 
tliree o'clock, the dense French columns advanced 
on Cravant, they were checked by an impetuous 
attack of the 44th Brigade, which had joined the 
Bavarians, and soon driven out of Layes, which 
they had taken on their way. The five batteries 
nearest to Cravant had suffered so severely mean- 
while that they had to be withdraAvn. 

When at last, at about four o'clock, the Bavarian 
battalions advanced to storm the height in front of 
them, they were met by fresh troops of the enemy, 
and after losing the greater part of their officers 
were compelled to retreat on the artilleiy position 
at Beaumont. Finally, however, the French aban- 
doned Villechaumont. 

On the left wing of the Grand Duke's forces the 
17th Division had pursued the retreating French 
beyond Vallees and Villeneuve, and then at about 
half-past twelve had attacked them at Messas. 
The defence was obstinate, and it was not till dusk 

The Grand Duke's Battle. 49 

that they succeeded in carrying the place. The 
artillery directed its fire on dense masses assembled 
by Vernon, the infantry stormed the hill of Beau- 
gency, and finally forced their way into the town, 
where a French battery fell into their hands. Cam6's 
Division then retired on Tavers, and even after 
midnight Greneral von Tresckow attacked Vernon, 
whence the French, taken quite by surprise, fled to 

The Commander-in-Chief of the Ilnd Army (Ger- 
man) had intended to march the Ilird, Xth, and IXth 
Corps on Bourges, from Gien, Orleans, and lastly 
from Blois. But the Grand Duke's force in its ad- 
vance on Blois by the right bank of the Loire had met 
with unexpected resistance and a two days' engage- 
ment. At the army head-quarters at Versailles it 
was regarded as indispensable that the Grand Duke 
should immediately be reinforced by at least one 
Division. Telegraphic orders to that efifect were 
despatched at ten in the morning of December 9th. 
The IXth Corps, which was already on the march 
along the left bank and had no enemy in front, 
could not give the required support, as all the 
bridges over the river had been blown up. The 
Illrd Corps was therefore ordered to leave only a 
detachment at Gien, as a corps of observation, and 
to march back on Orleans. The Xth Corps was to 
call in the detachments it had posted to the east 


50 The Franco-German War. 

of the city and advance on Meung. Thus, on the 
9th, the Grand Duke was still actually facing eleven 
French Divisions with four Divisions of infantry, 
quite unsupported. Early next morning General 
Chanzy proceeded to the attack. 

December 9th. — ^The two Prussian Divisions at 
Beauvert and Messas stood firmly awaiting the 
French charge. The two Bavarian Divisions, 
having sustained great loss, were left at Cravant as 
a reserve, but soon had to be absorbed in the fight- 
ing line, when at seven o'clock strong columns of 
the French were seen advancing on Le M^e. 

Dense bodies of tirailleurs were repulsed both 
there and at Vernon, and came under the fire of 
the devoted German artillery, which silenced the 
French guns and then opened fire on Villorceau. 
In spite of a stout defence, this village was taken 
by about half-past ten by the Bavarian infantry. 
The French advance on Villechaumont in greatly 
superior force was also repulsed, with the assistance 
of three battalions and two batteries of the 22nd 
Division. The Thuringians then stormed Cemay, 
where 200 French laid doAvn their arms, and one 
of their batteries lost its team and carriages. 

On the right wing, by a misunderstanding, the 
Germans evacuated Layes and Beauvert, and the 
French marched in. However, with the support of 
the 2nd Bavarian Brigade, the enemy was again 

The Grand Duke's Battle. 51 

driven out of both places. Further to the north, 
the 4th Cavalry Division was observing the move- 
ment of a French detachment marching on Viller- 

The French made renewed efforts by midday, 
advancing agaiu on Cravant in strong columns ; but 
this movement General Tresckow attacked in flank, 
from Messas. He left only a weak detachment in 
Beaugency and secured the villages on the left on 
the way to Tavers. The main body of the 17th 
Division advanced on Bonvalet, reinforced the 
hardly-pressed Bavarians in Villorceau, and occu- 
pied Villemarceau in front of that place. Here the 
Division had to maintain a severe struggle, at about 
three o'clock, with the strong columns of the French 
XVIth and XVIIth Corps. The infantry rushing 
on the enemy with cheers succeeded, however, in 
repulsing him and holding their ground in spite 
of a hot fire. At the same time three Bavarian 
battalions, with cavalry and artillery, had marched 
up from Cravant and had driven the French out of 
Villejouan. Further to the right a battalion of the 
32nd had taken possession of Ourcelle. A line 
from thence to Tavers marked the ground so 
laboriously wrung from the French. 

The battle ended with the retreat of the enemy 
on Josnes and Dugny. 

On this day the Ilird Corps were on the march 
E 2 

,52 The Franco-German War. 

to Orleans. The IXth could only take no part in 
the fighting but by the fire from their artillery on 
Meung and Beaugency, from its position on the left 
bank. It was not till near Blois that they met 
some French detachments. Fifty men of one of 
the Hessian battalions stormed the fortified castle 
of Chambord a little way from the river, and there 
took 200 prisoners and twelve anmiunition waggons 
with their teams. 

Of the Xth Corps only the infantry at the head 
had reached Meung, but it had sent forward a regi- 
ment of Hussars with eight batteries, which arrived 
at Grand Chatre by about three o'clock in the 

The Commander-in-Chief of the Ilnd Army now 
ordered the Bavarian Corps to retire on Orleans, to 
recruit after its heavy losses. But even when 
reinforced by the Xth Corps the Grand Duke still 
had to meet an enemy of double numerical strength, 
and instead of pursuing he had rather to think of 
defending his position. 

December 10th. — Before daybreak General 
Chanzy renewed his attack, which even the Bava- 
rians were presently required to repel. 

At seven in the morning the French XVIIth 
Corps rushed in dense masses on Origny, took 
150 prisoners, and forced their way into Ville- 
jouan. This advance was met by the 43rd Brigade 

The Grand Duke's Battle. 53 

at Cemay on the front, and by the ith Bavarians 
with six batteries at Villechaumont ; while on the 
right flank General von Tresckow marched on 
Villorceau and Villemarceau. In this last village 
two of his battalions, supported by four batteries, 
resisted every onslaught of the French from Origny 
and Toupenay. At noon the main body of the 
17th Division advanced to repossess themselves of 
Villejouan. Here the French made an obstinate 
stand. The fighting, with great loss on both sides, 
was continued till four o'clock, and then fresh 
troops of French came up to recover the position 
the Grermans still held in one single farmstead. 

All the artillery of the Prussian Division had, 
however, deployed to the south of Villemarceau ; 
they were joined by two horse batteries of the Xth 
Corps, and the batteries of the 22nd Division also 
opened an effective fire. The concentric fire of 
all these guns put an end to any further attack of 
the XVIIth French Corps. 

Beaugency was now occupied by part of the 
Xth Corps. During the past few days the German 
left wing had had a firm position on the Loire to 
depend upon, but on the right such a point had 
been whoUy lacking. The French had nevertheless 
made no attempt to take advantage of their 
superiority by extending their front. Not till this 
day did they march on the unprotected German 

54 The Franco-German War. 

flank. The greater part of the XXIst Corps was 
deployed opposite to it, between Poisly and 
M^zier^s, and at half-past ten the strong columns 
advanced on Villermain. The Bavarians were 
compelled to form in a bow-line, with the 2nd 
Brigade, from Jouy to Coudray. Seven batteries 
were brought into that line, and on its right wing 
the 4th Cavalry Division stood in readiness. Be- 
fore two o'clock 2 more horse batteries and 4 
batteries of the Xth Corps arrived from Cravant, 
and joined them there with three brigades as a 
reserve. The fire of over a hundred German 
guns made the French take their artillery out of 
action at about three o'clock, and separate weak 
attacks by their infantry were repulsed without 
difficulty by the Germans, who awaited them in 
resolute defence. 

The French losses in this four days' battle 
are unknown. The Grand Duke's force lost 3400 
men, of which the larger half belonged to the two 
Bavarian Divisions. 

The Grand Duke had held his own against three 
corps of the enemy, till the first supports could 
come up, and this he owed to the bravery of his 
troops, more especially of the artillery. This alone 
lost 255 men and 356 horses. The guns were 
brought into such requisition that at last almost 
all the steel guns of the^ht batteries of the 22nd 

The Grand Duke's Battle. 55 

Division, and most of the Bavarian, were rendered 
useless by the burning out of their breech blocks. 

The Ilird Corps had on this day just arrived at 
St.-Denis, and the IXth at Vienne opposite Blois ; 
but here too the bridge over the Loire was blown 

On the French side, General Chanzy had learnt 
from the telegraphic correspondence of General 
Bourbaki with the Government at Tours, that 
nothing had come of Bourbaki's attempt to divert 
part of the German forces against himself. The 
long delay led him to fear an attack from their 
whole force ; he had therefore decided on a retreat, 
which resulted in the removal of the Assembly 
from Tours to Bordeaux. 

At the Grand Duke's head-quarters a fresh attack 
was decided on for December 11th. The villages 
in front had been left strongly occupied, and it was 
only at noon that the enemy's retreat became 
known. They were at once pursued on the left by 
the Xth Corps, and on the right, south of the 
woods of March^noir, by the Grand Duke's force. 
On the north, the 4th Cavalry Division was engaged 
in scouting. 

A thaw had followed the hard frost, making the 
march equally difficult for both armies. The 
Germans found the roads blocked with abandoned 
waggons and cast-away arms ; the bodies of men 

56 The Franco-German War. 

and horses lay unburied in the fields, and in the 
villages were hundreds of wounded quite uncared 
for. Several thousands of stragglers were captured. 

The orders from the army head-quarters at 
Versailles were for a pursuit, which should render 
the enemy incapable of further action for some time 
to come ; but not beyond Tours. The Ilnd Army 
was then to muster at Orleans and the Grand 
Duke's forces at Chartres, and the troops were to 
have the rest they needed. From the first point 
constant and strict watch could be kept on General 
Bourbaki's army, and to this end a connection was 
to be made with General von Zastrow, who was 
to go to Chdtillon-sur-Seine on the 13th, with the 
Vllth Corps. Still, no operations were to extend 
beyond Bourges and Nevers. 

The Ilnd Army was accordingly next marched 
on the Loir, and by the 13th held the line of 
Oucques — Conan — Blois, that town having been 
found evacuated. 

On the 14th the 17 th Division marched on 
Mor^e, and on the Loir past Frdteval. A fight 
ensued at both these points. Though the French 
had advanced so far, they seemed to intend 
making a firm stand on the Loir, where they had 
occupied Cloyes and Vendome in great strength. 

To attack with success, Prince Frederick Charles 
began by collecting all his forces. The Iltd 

The Grand Duke's Battle. 57 

Corps, hurrying after the army by forced marches, 
was in the first instance to fill the interval between 
the Grand Duke's forces and the Xth Corps, which 
was withdrawn irom Blois and Herbault on Ven- 

But when, on the 15th, the Xth Corps marched 
in that direction, the main body met with such a 
determined resistance close in front of Vend6me 
that it could not be overcome before dark. The 
troops therefore retired to quarters in the rear of 
Ste.-Anne. A left flanking detachment had found 
St.-Amand occupied by a strong force, and had 
halted at Gombergean. The Illrd Corps had 
advanced in the course of the day on Coulom- 
miers, near Vend6me, had fought the French at 
Bel-Essert, and driven them back across the Loir 
and established communications. The Grand 
Duke, in obedience to orders, acted at first on the 
defensive. The IXth Corps, after the restoration 
of the bridge at Blois, was at last able to follow 
the army, leaving a brigade in occupation. 

A greatly superior force was now assembled oppo- 
site the enemy's position, and a general attack was 
decided on ; but to give the troops a much-needed 
rest it was postponed till the 17th, and meanwhile, 
on the 16th, General Chanzy withdrew. 

It had certainly been his intention to hold the 
Loir Valley still longer ; but his Generals assured 

58 The Franco-German War. 

him that the condition of the troops would not 
allow him to prolong the struggle. He accord- 
ingly gave the order for the retreat of the army at 
daybreak on Le-Mans, by Montoire, St.-Calais, and 

Thus, in the early morning, the Xth Corps 
found the French position in front of Vend6me 
abandoned, and entered the city without opposi- 
tion. On the French left wing only, where march- 
ing orders had not yet arrived, General Jaur^s 
made an attack on Fr^teval, but in the evening he 
followed the other Corps. 

The Interruption of Serious Offensive 
OpERAtioNS IN December. 

On the 17th of December general orders had 
been issued from Versailles to the Annies both to 
the north and south of Paris. 

Now that General von Manteuffel had crossed 
the Somme, and Prince Frederick Charles the 
Loir, the Germans held possession of almost a 
third of France. The French were driven back on 
every side; and in order not to split up their 
forces, it was thought advisable that the Germans 
should concentrate into three principal divisions. 
The 1st Army was therefore to assemble at Beauvais, 
the Grand Duke's forces at Chartres, the Ilnd 

The Situation in December. 59 

Army near Orleans ; the troops were to have some 
needful rest, and their efficiency to be restored 
by the arrival from Germany of fresh reliefs 
and equipment. If the French made any new 
move, they were to be allowed to approach as close 
as possible, and then be driven back by a strong 

The Ilnd Army had but little prospect at present 
of overtaking the enemy beyond the Loir ; and the 
reports from the Upper Loire now necessitated a 
sharper look-out in that direction. News came 
from Gien that the posts established at Ouzouer on 
the Loire had been driven in ; and it seemed not 
imlikely that General Bourbaki would take the 
opportunity of advancing by Montargis on Paris, 
or at least on Orleans, which at this moment was 
occupied by only a part of the 1st Bavarian Corps. 

Prince Frederick Charles had got rid of his 
enemy, probably for some little time, and he decided, 
in obedience to orders from Versailles, to remain 
with his forces in an expectant attitude at Orleans. 
Only the Xth Corps was to be left to keep watch 
on the Loir. To secure support at once, for the 
Bavarian Corps in any case, the IXth Corps, on 
its arrival from Blois at La-Chapelle-Vend&moise, 
on the 16th, was ordered to march on Beaugency 
that day, and on Orleans on the morrow. It 
covered eleven German miles in twenty-four hours, 

6o The Franco-German War. 

in very bad weather. The Illrd Corps followed it 

However, it was soon known that the enemy's 
detachment which had been at Gien did not form 
part of a large body of troops, and was intrenching 
itself at Briare for its own safety. So the Germans 
retired into comfortable quarters, the 1st Bavarian 
Corps at Orleans, the Ilird there and at Beaugency, 
the IXth in the plain of the Loire and up as 
far as Ch&teauneuf, with a strong post at Mon- 

The Bavarian Corps was then transferred to 
Etampes, to recover at their leisure, to recruit their 
numbers, and make good their clothing and equip- 
ment. Nor were the Grand Duke of Mecklenburg's 
forces in a condition to pursue General Chanzy be- 
yond the Loir. Six weeks of daily marching and 
fighting had tried them to the utmost. The dreadful 
weather and the state of the roads had reduced 
their clothing and boots to a miserable state. A 
reconnoissance beyond the Loir showed that the 
French could only be overtaken by long and rapid 
marches. So the Grand Duke allowed his troops a 
long rest, from the 18th, in the villages on the left 
bank of the river. 

Of the Ilird Army, General von Rheinbaben, on 
the contrary, had the three Brigades of the 5th 
Cavalry Division at Courtalin, Brou, and Chartres 

The Situation in December. 6i 

reinforced by 5 battalions of Guard Landwehr 
and 4 batteries. A letter from the Chief of 
the General Staff at Versailles had pointed out 
that this cavalry might probably be employed with 
great success in attacking the flank and rear of the 
enemy's retreating columns, and the Crown Prince 
had already given orders that they should advance 
on Brou in full strength on the 15th. In contra- 
diction to these, the Division obeyed an order which 
reached them on the 16th from the Grand Duke, 
imder whose command they had not been plax^ed^ 
to take up a position on the Yeres. 

On this day the patrols had found the roads open 
to Montmirail and Mondoubleau, but there was a 
body of French infantry in front of Cloyes, which re- 
tired after a short fray. On the left, comiiiunica- 
tions were established with the 4th Cavalry Division. 
On the 17th, the 12 th Cavalry Brigade entered 
Cloyes, already evacuated by the French ; on the 
13th they advanced on Arrou, and only General von 
Bartz marched on Droue with a force of all arms, 
where he surprised the French at their cooking, 
and carried off much plunder. 

On the 18th, the 12th Brigade still found a few 
stragglers there, but the other two brigades 
inarched a little way to the westward on La- 
Bazoche-Gouet and Arville, whence the enemy had 
quite disappeared. To the south of An^ille a batta- 

62 The Franco-German War. 

lion of the Guard Landwehr drove the French 
infantry out of St.-Agil. 

With this the pursuit ended on the 19th. The 
Division retired on Nogent-le-Rotrou by the Grand 
Duke's desire, and subsequently undertook the ob- 
servation of the left bank of the Seine at Vernon 
and Dreux. 

The Grand Duke's forces left their quarters on 
the Loir on the 21st. The 22nd Division occupied 
Nogent-le-Roi, and the 17th Chartres, till the 24th 
of the month. The 4th Bavarian Brigade rejoined 
its own Corps at Orleans. 

During the remainder of December only the Xth 
Corps had any fighting, having been detailed to keep 
watch beyond the Loir from Blois and Vend6me. 

Two brigades were marched on Tours on the 
20th. On the further side of Monnaie they met the 
newly-formed troops of General Ferri-Pisani, 10,000 
to 15,000 strong, and which were advancing from 
Angers on Tours. 

The soaked groimd made it most diflSicult to 
deploy the artillery and cavalry. The cavalry, 
indeed, could do no more than pursue the retreating 
French in deep columns along the high roads, 
thereby suffering severely from the enemy's fire, 
delivered at very short range. 

On the following day General von Woyna ad- 
vanced unopposed, with six battalions, on the bridge 

Engagement on the Brave. 63 

at Tours. A light battery was driven up on the 
bank of the river and dispersed the masses firing 
from the opposite shore, but it would have cost too 
many lives to storm the city, which, since the re- 
moval of the seat of Government, had ceased to be 
of any great importance. The detachment was 
recalled to Monnaie, and the 19th Division went 
into quarters at Blois, the 20th at Herbault and 

From thence, on the 27th, a detachment of frsvo 
battalions, one squadron, and two guns marched 
past Montoire on Soug^ on the Braye, and there 
met a greatly superior force. General Chanzy had, 
in fact, marched a Division of the XVIIth Corps on 
Vend6me to draw the Prussians away from Tours. 
Behind St. Quentin the weak Prussian detachment 
found itself hemmed in between the river and the 
clifi*, enclosed on every side, and imder heavy fire. 
Lieutenant-Colonel von Boltenstem succeeded, how- 
ever, in cutting his way through. Without firing a 
shot the two Hanoverian battalions rushed on the 
dense body of tirailleurs who cut off their retreat, 
and fought their way out hand to hand. Through 
the gap thus made the guns followed, after firing a 
round of grape-shot, and notwithstanding losses to 
the teams they were got back to Montoire. The 
squadron also charged through two lines of riflemen 
and rejoined the infantry. 

64 The Franco-German War. 

As a result of this incident General von Kraatz, 
after collecting the remainder of the 20th Division 
from Herbault, determined to enlighten the situation 
by a fresh reconnoissance. Four battalions were 
to advance from Vend6me, aud the 1st Cavafry 
Brigade from Fr^teval was to scout towards 
Epuisay. On this day, however, General de 
Jouifroy was marching on Vendome to attack it 
with two Divisions. 

When, at about ten o'clock, the . reconnoitring 
force from Vendome reached the Azay, they came 
under a hot fire from the opposite slope of the 
valley. Soon after this six French battalions 
attacked them in flank from the south, and re- 
peated notice was brought in that considerable 
forces of the enemy were marching on Vendome 
direct, from the north of Azay by Espereuse. 
General von Kraatz perceived that he would have 
to face a planned attack from very superior 
numbers, and determined to restrict himself to 
the local defence of Vendome. Under cover of a 
battalion, left to mamtain its position at Huchepie, 
he achieved the retreat of the detachment in per- 
fect order, and it then took up a position on the 
railway embankment to the west of the city. 

Further to the north the French columns, 
advancing past Espereuse, had afready reached 
Bel-Air. A battaUon hastening up from Vend6me 

French Attack on Vendome. 65 

occupied the ch&teau, but being outflanked on 
the right by a superior force was obliged to retire, 
and likewise took up a position behind the rail- 
way. At about two o*clock the French attacked i this 
position in dense masses of sharpshooters, but came 
under the fire of six batteries posted on the heights 
behind Venddme, which drove back their right 
wing. A column advanced, along the left bank 
of the Loir from Varennes, to attack this line of 
guns, but hastily retreated out of range of their 

The attacks on the railway from Bel- Air and 
Tuileries were a more serious affair ; eight com- 
panies placed there, however, repelled them. At 
four o'clock the French once more advanced in 
strength ; fortune wavered for some time, and at 
last, as darkness fell, they retired. 

The 1st Cavalry Brigade, with two companies 
and a horse battery, had marched on Danz^. 
Captain Spitz, with a small number of his West- 
phalian Fusiliers, fell on two batteries which had been 
drawn up there, and captured two guns and three 
limbers. With these and fifty prisoners General 
von Liideritz returned to Fr^teval by about one 
o'clock, after pursuing the enemy as far as Epuisay. 

The French attempt on Vend6me had utterly 
failed, and they now retreated to a greater distance. 
General von Kraatz, however, was ordered, with an 

VOL. u. F 

66 The Franco-German War. 

eye to a greater enterprise to be described later, to 
remain in a state of preparation on the Loir. 

The XIVth Corps in December. 

In the south-eastern scene of war the French had 
at last decided on some definite action. 

Garibaldi's Corps, assembled at Autun, advanced 
on the 24th ; the detachments marched by 
Sombemon and St.-Seine, with various skirmishes 
and night attacks, close up to the front. Cramer's 
Division advanced on Gevrey from the south. 
But as soon as reinforcements had reached Dijon 
from Gray and Is-sur-Tille, the enemy was driven 
back, and now General von Werder, on his part, 
ordered the 1st Brigade to march on Autun. 
General KeUer arrived in front of the town on 
December 1st, driving the French before him. 
Preparations had been made to attack on the 
following day, when orders came for a rapid retreat. 
Fresh detachments were needed at Ch&tillon, where 
those posted to protect the railway had been sur- 
prised, at Gray, against sorties by the garrison of 
Besan9on, and also to observe Langres. 

The Prussian Brigade marched on Langres with 
two cavalry regiments and three batteries, and on 
the 16th they met the French not far from 
Longeau, in number about 2000. The French were 

Fighting in the South-East. 67 

repulsed, losing 200 wounded, fifty prisoners, two 
guns, and two ammunition waggons. General von 
der Groltz had, in a day or two, surrounded Langres, 
driven the Gardes-Mobiles posted outside into the 
fortress, and occupied a position on the north for 
the protection of the railways. 

In the country south of Dijon fresh massing of 
the French troops had now been observed. To 
disperse these General von Werder advanced on the 
18th with two Baden Brigades on Nuits. In Bon- 
court, close to the town on the east, the advanced 
guard met with lively opposition, but carried the 
place by noon. The French, assisted by their 
batteries drawn up on the hiUs west of Nuits, offered 
an obstinate defence in the deep railway cutting 
and by the Meuzin. When the main body of the 
Brigade came up at two o'clock General von Gliimer 
ordered a general attack. The infantry now rushed 
across the open plain, with great loss, especially 
in superior officers, against the enemy, who was 
well under cover and who, firing at short range, was 
not driven back on Nuits till four o'clock, after a 
hand-to-hand struggle. At five o'clock they aban- 
doned the place to the German battalions. 

The Germans had met Cramer's Division, 10,000 
strong, which had lost 1700 men, among them 650 
unwounded prisoners. The Baden Divisions, too, 
had lost 900 men. They encamped for the night 

F 2 

68 The Franco-German War. 

on the market-place of the town and in the villages 
to the eastward. 

Next morning the French were found to have 
retreated still further, but the Germans were not 
strong enough for pursuit. The XlVth Corps had 
already been obliged to spare seven battalions for 
the investment of Belfort. General von Werder 
therefore returned to Dijon, where he assembled all 
the forces stiU left to him with those of General von 
der Gt)ltz from Langres, waiting to see whether 
the French would renew the attack. But the 
month of December ended without any further 

The 1st Army in December. 

While the Ilnd Army was fighting on the Loire, 
General von Manteuflfel, after the siege of Amiens, 
had marched on Rouen. 

General Farre was indeed at Arras, in the rear 
of this movement, but the disorder in which his 
troops had retired after that battle made it prob- 
able that he would do nothing, at any rate for the 
present. The 3rd Brigade, too, was left in Amiens 
with two cavalry regiments and three batteries, to 
occupy the place and protect the important line of 
railway to Laon. 

The outlook on the west was more serious than 
on the north, for there, at this juncture, French 

The Armies in Normandy. 69 

forces threatened to interfere with the invest- 
ment of Paris. General Briand was at Rouen 
with 20,000 men, and had advanced his leading 
troops as far forward as the Epte, where, at Beau- 
vais and Gisors, he met the Dragoon Guards sent 
in from the Army of the Meuse and the Saxon 
Cavahy Division. The detachment of infantry 
which had escorted the cavalry had lost 150 men 
and a gun in a night attack. 

When the 1st Army reached the Epte, on De- 
cember 3rd, the two Cavahy Divisions joined the 
march, and the French retired behind the Andelles. 
The Vlllth Corps arrived near Rouen, after 
skirmishes on the road, and found an intrenched 
position abandoned at Isneauville ; and on Decem- 
ber 5th General von Goeben entered the chief city 
of Normandy. The 29th Brigade advanced on 
Pont-Audemer, the 1st Corps crossed the Seine 
higher up, at Les-Andelys and Pont-de-rArche. 
Vernon and Evreux were occupied, numbers of 
Grardes-Mobiles having retreated by railway to 
Liseux. On the northern bank the Dragoon Guards 
reconnoitred as far as Bolbec, and the Uhlans 
found no French even in Dieppe. 

The French had retired to Le-Havre, and a con- 
siderable force had been conveyed, in ships that 
were in readiness, to Honfleur, on the other bank 
of the Seine. The 16th Division continued its 

JO The Franco-German War. 

march, reaching Bolbec and Lillebonne on the 

The orders from head-quarters at Versailles had 
been transmitted by the Chief of the General Staff, 
and, in obedience to these, Greneral Mantenffel now 
decided on leaving only the 1st Corps on the 
Lower Seiae, and returning with the Vlllth on 
the Somme, where the French in Arras were now 
becoming active. 

Besides making this evident by various small 
encoimters, on December 9th they had attacked a 
compai^y detailed to protect the reconstruction of 
the railway at Ham, surprisiag it at night, and 
taking most of the men prisoners ; and on the 11th 
several French battalions advanced as far as La-F6re. 

To check their further progress, the Army of the 
Meuse sent detachments to Soissons and Compiegne, 
General Count von der Groeben took up a position 
at Roye with part of the garrison from Amiens, and 
on the 16th encountered the 15th Division at Mont- 
didier, which immediately retired on the Somme. 

Only the citadel of Amiens was now held by the 
Germans; General von Manteuffel, who had not 
approved of the evacuation of the town, ordered 
an immediate reoccupation. The inhabitants had, 
however, remained peaceable, and on the 20th the 
16th Division, which had given up the attack on 
Le-Havre, arrived via Dieppe. 

Battle on the Hallue. 71 

A reconnoissance action by Querrieux made it 
certain that great numbers of French were drawn 
up on the bank of the Hallue, and General von Man- 
teuffel now concentrated the whole Corps at Amiens. 
Reinforcements might shortly be expected, for the 
3rd Reserve Division was on the march, and had 
abeady reached St.-Quentin. The 1st Corps was 
also ordered to send another brigade from Rouen 
to Amiens by raQway, and the General in com- 
mand determined to attack at once with 22,600 men, 
his only available force. 

General Faidherbe had assembled two Corps, the 
XXIInd and XXTTTrd. His advance on Ham 
and La-F6re, intended to divert the Prussians 
from attacking Le-Havre, had succeeded. He next 
turned on Amiens, and had advanced to within two 
miles (German). He now stood, with 43,000 men 
and eighty-two guns, fronting to the west behind the 
Hallue. Two Divisions held the left bank of this 
stream for one and a half miles, from its confluence 
at Daours up to Contay, and two beyond, at Corbie 
andFravillers. The Somme secured their left flank. 

On December 23rd General von Manteuflel, with 
the Vlllth Corps, advanced on the road to Albert. 
The 3rd Brigade of the 1st Corps formed his reserve. 
He intended to keep the French busy with the 15th 
Division on their front and left wing, and with the 
1 6th Division outflank their right. The unexpected 

72 The Franco-German War, 

extension of the French right wing prevented this, 
and it became a front-to-front battle along the 
whole line. The commanding height of the eastern 
bank gave the French a superior aridUery position, 
and the villages lying at the foot had in every 
instance to be stormed. 

The French had withdrawn their outposts to this 
line when, at eleven o'clock, the head of the 15th 
Division reached the copse at Querrieux, and 
brought up a battery. Two battalions of the 29th 
Brigade took the place at mid-day at the first 
onslaught, crossed the stream, drove the French on 
the further bank out of Noyelles ; but they now 
found themselves under an artillery and infantry 
fire from all sides. The East Prussians stormed 
the slope at about four o'clock, and took two guns 
which were being served, but were forced to retire 
to the village before the advancing masses of the 

Soon after mid-day, too, F^chencourt was carried 
on the left, and Bussy on the right; and the 
enemy, after a feeble resistance, was driven back 
across the stream. Here, on the other hand, the 
German Artillery could at first do nothing against 
the strong and well-posted batteries of the French. 
Vecquemont, however, was stormed, though 
stoutly defended, and street-fighting lasted till the 

Battle on the Hallue, 73 

The 15th Division, against the intentions of their 
leader, had become involved in the fight before the 
16th, operating more to the left, could afford them 
any assistance. It was not till four o'clock that the 
31st Brigade arrived at B^hencourt, and, crossing 
the river by flying bridges, drove the French back 
into the village, where they still offered a firm, stout 
resistance, but had finally to give way. The 32nd 
Brigade, on the extreme left, got across the 
Hallue and into Bavelincourt. 

Thus all the hamlets on the river were in the 
hands of the Germans; but the short December 
day was closing in, and further progress must be 
postponed till the morrow. Even in the dark the 
French made several attempts to regain the posi- 
tions they had lost, particularly about Contay, 
where they overlapped the German position. But 
their attacks were repulsed both there and at 
Noyelles. They succeeded, indeed, in getting into 
Vecquemont, but were driven out again, and then 
the Prussians, pursuing them across the stream, also 
carried Daours, so that finally the Germans held 
every passage of the Hallue. 

The battle was over by six o'clock. The troops 
retired into quarters in the captured villages, 
placing outposts near every egress. 

The attack had cost the Germans 900 men; 
the defence had cost the French about 1000, 

74 The Franco-German War. 

besides 1000 unwounded prisoners* taken into 

At daybreak on the 24th the French opened fire 
on the Hallue cutting. 

Having ascertained that the enemy's numbers 
were ahnost double, it was decided this day on the 
German side to act only on the defensive, awaiting 
the arrival of reinforcements and intrenching them- 
selves in the positions gained. The army reserve 
was pushed forward on Corbie to threaten the 
French left flank. 

But at two o'clock in the afternoon Greneral 
Faidherbe was already retiring. His insufficiently- 
clothed troops had suffered fearfiilly through the 
bitter winter's night, and were much shaken by the 
unfavourable issue of the fight. He therefore led 
them back under shelter of the fortresses. When, 
on the 25th, the two Prussian Divisions and the 
cavalry pursued them beyond Albert, and then 
almost as far as Arras and up to Cambrai, they 
found no compact force at all, and only captured 
some hundreds of stragglers. 

When General Manteuffel had disposed of the 
enemy, he sent General von Minis to invest 
P^ronne, while he himself returned to Rouen. 

By drafting off six battalions as a reinforcement 
to Amiens, the 1st Army Corps was left with only 
two brigades. The French had 10,000 men on 

Taking of M£zi£res. 75 

the right bank, and 12,000 on the left bank of the 
lower Seine. And these forces had come very 
close to Rouen; on the south side within two 
miles. Meanwhile, however, the 2nd Brigade had 
again been sent up from Amiens, and on its arrival 
the hostile force was once more driven back. 

The Taking of M^zieres. 

On the northern field of war, before the end of 
the year, the siege of M^zieres was brought to an 
end. After the battle of Sedan the Commandant 
had to send out provisions from the stores of the 
besieged town for the maintenance of the large 
number of prisoners, and it was, therefore, for the 
present exempted from attack. After that the 
fortress precluded the use of the railroad ; still it 
was only kept under observation till the 19th of 
December, when, after the disaster of Montm^dy, 
the 14th Division fell back on M^ziferes. 

The garrison numbered only 2000 men, but it 
was effectually seconded without by volunteers, who 
were extremely active in this broken and wooded 
country. The town was not completely invested 
till the 25th. 

M^zi^res stands on a spur of the mountains, 
surrounded on three sides by the MoseUe, and 
shut in by high ground. The construction of the 

76 The Franco-German War. 

fortress, which wsa strengthened by Vauban, was 
not calculated to resist modem artillery, There 
was an outer rampart at a distance of from 2000 
to 3000 metres from the inner wall, and although 
the long delay had been utilized to make good the 
weak points by throwing up earthworks, a bom- 
bardment could not fail to be fatal to the defence. 

When Verdun had surrendered, heavy artillery 
had to be brought by nul from Clermont to a 
position close under the southern frx)nt of the 
fortress. The only hindrance to the erection of 
the batteries was the state of the soil, which was 
frozen to a depth of twenty inches ; but at a quarter 
past eight on the morning of the 31st of December 
eight field-gims opened fire. 

At first the fort replied vigorously, but by the 
afternoon its artillery was silenced, and the white 
flag was hoisted next morning. 

The garrison were taken prisoners ; large stores 
and 132 guns fell into the hands of the Germans. 
But the chief advantage gained was the opening 
of another line of railway to Paris. 

Paris in December. 

In Paris General Ducrot had been busily em- 
ployed in making good the losses sustained at 
Villiers. A part of the greatly reduced 1st Corps 

Paris in December. ^^ 

must be kept in reserve, the Ilnd Army was re- 
distributed. A sortie by the peninsula of Genne- 
villers and the heights of Franconville had not 
been approved by the government. They ex- 
pected confidently to see the Army of Orleans 
appear ere long under the walls of the capital, and 
steps were being taken on the 6th of December to 
facilitate a junction, when a letter from General 
von Moltke announced the defeat of General d'Au- 
relle and the occupation of Orleans. A sortie to 
the south would thenceforth be aimless, and after 
long discussion it was at last decided to break 
through the enemy's lines on the north by a great 
collective effort. 

The little stream of the Mor^e offered some pro- 
tection on that side, but only so long as the ice 
would not bear. And there were but three Ger- 
man corps amounting to 81,200, over an ex- 
tent of forty-five kilometres (twenty-seven miles 

Earthworks were constructed in preparation 
between Bondy and Coumeuve, the forts to the 
north were armed with heavier guns, and a 
battery was mounted on Mont-Avron. Ninety 
rounds of ammunition were served out to each 
man, with six days' rations ; and four days' fodder 
for the horses. They were forbidden to carry 
their kit, but the camp bedding was to be taken 

78 The Franco-German War, 

The day at first fixed was December 19th, but it 
was postponed till the 2l8t. 

Thus, during great part of the month, the in- 
vesting army remained almost undisturbed by the 
defenders. Regular food, warm winter clothing, 
and abundant supplies through the unfailing 
punctuality of the mails, had kept the troops in a 
thoroughly satisfactory condition. 

The preparations of the garrison for a new 
offensive did not escape the notice of the be- 
sieging forces. Deserters brought reports of an 
imminent sortie. On the 20th information came 
from the posts of observation that a large force 
was assembling at Merlan and Noisy-le-Sec, and 
early on the 21st the 2nd Division of foot-guards 
were, by order of the Commander-in-Chief of the 
Army of the Meuse, in readiness to cross the 
Mor^e. Part of the 1st Division remained in 
reserve at Gonesse; the rest were to be relieved 
by the 7th, and brought into action. On the 
right wing the Landwehr Division of Guards oc- 
cupied the country between Chatou and Carri^res- 
St.-Denis; on the left a brigade of the Saxon 
Corps held Seran. The 4th Infantry Division of 
the Ilnd Corps were drawn back on MaJnoue to 
support the Wurtemburgers in case of need, as 
they were to make a stand against the French at 

Fight at Le-Bourget. 79 

To divert the attention of the Germans from the 
true point of attack, a brisk fire was to be opened 
early in the day from St.-Val^rien ; a considerable 
force was to engage the right wing of the Guards, 
General Vinoy was to lead the Illrd Army against 
the Saxons, and Admiral de la Roucifere was to 
fall upon Le-Bourget. This place, which was a 
standing threat, must at any rate be seized, and 
not till then was General Ducrot to cross the 
Mor^e, near Blancmesnil and Aulnay, with the 
Ilnd Paris Army. 

The Fight at Le-Bourget. 

(December 21st.) 

Le-Bourget was held by only four companies 
of Queen Elizabeth's Regiment (German) and one 
battalion of foot guards. When the mist rose at 
about a quarter to eight, the little force found 
itself under fire from the forts and several 
batteries, as well as from the armour-clad railway 
carriages. Within half an hour strong columns 
of the French were marching up from east and 
west. To the east the village was defended for 
some time against seven French battalions, and 
on the other side, five were brought to a stand- 
still close to the church by the rapid fire of the 
Germans ; but some of the marine fusiliers made 

8o The Franco-German War. 

their way into the place from the north. Pressed 
on all sides by superior numbers, the defence was 
concentrated at the southern end of the village. 
The party holding the churchyard tried to force 
their way through to this point, but some of them 
were taken prisoners in the attempt. The French 
advanced step by step under great loss, and did 
not succeed in obtaining possession of the glass- 
works. Five fresh battalions of the French reserve 
marched up from St.-Denis to the gas-works, and 
battered down the garden-wall, but still could not 
break the steady resistance of the Germans. 

At nine o'clock they were reinforced by one 
company, and at ten o'clock by seven more, who, 
in a bloody hand-to-hand struggle, fought their 
way to the churchyard and gas-works. By eleven 
the last of the assailants were routed, and Le 
Bourget, in the expectation of a fresh attack, was 
occupied by fifteen companies. Two batteries of 
field artillery, which had been busy by the brook, 
were brought up to defend the village. * 

Meanwhile Greneral Ducrot had waited in vain 
for the signal which should have announced suc- 
cess at Le-Bourget. He had pushed the advanced 
guard of his army past Bondy and Drancy, when 
he was warned by the disastrous issue of the 
struggle on his left to give up the attack on the 
line by the Moree. 

Fighting at Le-Bourget. 8i 

The triumphant exploit became a mere camionade, 
to which the German field-guns replied as far as 
possible. By noon the French had retired. 

They had lost, by their own account, about 600 
men. The German Guards had sacrificed 400, 
but they carried off 360 prisoners. In the evening 
the outposts resumed their old positions. 

The various feints of the Parisian garrison had 
had no result, and produced no alteration in the 
plan pursued by the German Commander-in-Chief. 
Their advance from St.-Denis to Etains had been 
repulsed, and two gim-boats on the Seine were 
driven back by the fire of four field batteries on 
Orgemont. The tinfling sortie on Chatou was 
scarcely heeded. General Vinoy had indeed led 
a larger force along the right bank of the Mame, 
but that was not till the afternoon when the fight 
at Le-Bourget was over. The Saxon outposts 
retired to the intrenched position near Le Chenay. 
One of the German battalions in quarters there 
drove the enemy out of Maison-Blanche that same 
evening, another attacked Ville-Evrart, where fight- 
ing went on till midnight ; they lost seventy men, 
but brought in 600 prisoners. Next morning the 
French abandoned Ville-Evrart, under the fire of 
the German artillery posted on the heights on the 
opposite side of the river. 

Paris had now been invested for three months. 


82 The Franco-German War. 

A bombardment — ^never a satisfactory mode of 
action — could have no decisive effect against so 
large a place; and the Germans were, in fact, 
well aware that nothing could reduce it but a 
regular siege. But the engineering siege-works 
must wait till the artillery were in a position to 
second them. 

It has already been shown that the fortress ar- 
tillery had been first employed against those forts 
which interrupted the commimications in the rear 
of the army. There were indeed 235 heavy pieces 
standing ready for action at Villacoublay ; but 
it had proved impossible as yet to bring up the 
necessary ammunition for an attack which, when 
once begun, must on no account be allowed to flag. 

By the end of November, railway communica- 
tion had been opened with Chelles, but the greater 
part of the ammunition had meanwhile been 
deposited at Lagny, and would now have to 
be forwarded by the cross-road. The ordinary 
country carts with two wheels proved totally imfit 
for the transport of shell, and only 2000 four-wheeled 
carts could be requisitioned for many miles roimd. 
Hence 960 more were brought from Metz with 
horses sent from Germany, and even the teams of 
the nird Army were called into requisition, though 
they were almost indispensable just then as re- 
mounts towards the efficiency of the army on the 

The Works round Paris. 83 

Loire. Finally, all the horses of the pontoon trains, 
of the field bridging troops, and the columns of 
intrenching tools were taken for the transport 

A new difficulty arose when the breaking-up of 
the ice necessitated the removal of the pontoon- 
bridges over the Seine. 

The roads were so bad that it took the waggons 
nine days to get from Nanteuil to Villacoublay and 
back. Many broke down under their loads, and 
the drivers constantly took to flight. And at this 
juncture the chief of the staff gave the artillery 
another task to be carried out forthwith. 

Though the besieged had not hitherto succeeded 
in fighting their way through the enemy's lines, 
they now proposed to extend their operations so as 
to repel the besiegers tiU the circle became so thin 
that it could be broken. On the south side the 
German lines already extended beyond Vitry and 
Villejuif to the Seine ; and on the north, between 
Drancy and the Fort-de-l'Est, there was an ex- 
tensive system of trenches and batteries reaching to 
Le-Bourget over a distance of 1000 mHres, which 
in part might be dignified as regular siege-works. 
The hard frost had indeed arrested their con- 
struction, but they were armed with artillery and 
occupied by the Ilnd Army. Hence the most 
favourable poinUd^appui for a sortie to the east, 

G 2 

84 The Franco-German War. 

as well as to the north, was the commanding 
eminence of Mont-Avron, which, with its seventy 
heavy gunsj stood out in the Mame valley like 
the point of a wedge between the northern and 
southern German lines. 

The Reduction of Mont-Avbon. 
(December 27th.) 

To drive the French from this position fifty heavy 
guns from Germany, and twenty-six from La-Ffere 
were brought up under the command of Colonel 
Bartsch. By the exertions of a whole battalion 
as a working party, two groups of batteries were 
erected in spite of the severe frost, on the western 
slopes of the hills behind Raincy and Gagny, and 
on the left ridge of the Mame Valley near Noisy- 
le-Grand, thus threatening Mont-Avron on each 
side at a distance of from 2000 to 3000 metres. 

At half-past eight on the 27th of December 
these guns opened fire. A heavy snowstorm 
interfered with accurate aim, and prevented any 
observation of the execution done. Mont-Avron 
with the forts of Nogent and Rosny replied 
promptly and rapidly. 

The German batteries had lost two officers and 
twenty-five gunners, several gim-carriages had 
broken down under their own fire, and everything 

MoNT-AvRON Abandoned. 85 

pointed to the conclusion that no result would be 
obtained on that day. But the firing had been 
more efiectual than the men supposed. The fine 
weather on the 28th allowed of greater precision ; 
the Prussian fire proved most telling, making fear- 
ful havoc of the strong but exposed French infantry 
garrison. Mont-Avron was silenced and the forts 
only kept up a feeble fire. General Trochu, who 
had commanded in person, ordered the troops to 
abandon Mont-Avron, and it was so effectually 
disarmed in the course of the night by the energy 
of Colonel Stoffel that only one disabled gun was 
left on its flank. 

On the 29th the French guns were silenced, and 
ihe hill was deserted, as the Germans had no in- 
tention of occupying the position Their batteries 
were now turned on the forts, which suffered 
severely, and on the earthworks near Bondy. 

Before the year was out the besiegers succeeded 
in storing the most indispensable ammunition in 
Villacoublay. The siege operations were entrusted 
to General Kameky, the artillery was under the 
command of General Prince Hohenlohe. The 
batteries had long been finished, and by the da^vn 
of the new year 100 guns of the heaviest calibre 
were ready to open fire on the southern fortifica- 


The Army of the East under General 

While the French forces were engaged in con- 
stant fighting, in the north, on the Seine and the 
Somme, in the south, on the Loire and Saone, 
General Bourbaki's army had kept out of sight. 
Since the 8th of December, when the 6th Division 
of cavalry had reported its presence at Vierzon, 
all trace of it had been lost. It was, of course, of 
the greatest importance to the German Commander- 
in-Chief to know the whereabouts of so large an 
army; only the Ilnd German Army could learn 
this, and on the 22nd received instructions to 

To this end General von Rantzau set out from 
Montargis towards Briare, where he found that 
the French had abandoned their position ; in the 
course of the next few days he met them, and was 

BouRBAKi's Movements. S7 

The Hessians were reinforced to a strength of 
three battalions, four squadrons and six field-pieces, 
but were nevertheless withdrawn to Gien on the 
Ist of January, The French had displayed a force 
of several thousand Gardes-Mobiles, twelve guns, 
and a body of marine infantry. A noticeable fact 
was that some of the prisoners taken belonged to 
the XVnith French Corps, which formed part of 
the Ist Army of the Loire. 

A regiment of the 6th Division of Cavalry, 
sent out to reconnoitre on the road to Sologne, 
returned with the report that a strong force of the 
French were marching in column on Aubigny- 
Ville. On the other hand, two drivers, who had 
been taken prisoners, declared that the troops 
from Bourges were already being moved by rail- 
way, and the newspapers pointed to the same 
conclusion ; still, too much weight could not be 
attached to mere rumour as against a circum- 
stantial report. At Versailles it must be assumed 
that the Ist Army of the Loire had not moved 
from Bourges, and that General Bourbaki, after 
recuperating his forces, would act in concert with 
General Chanzy. 

These two armies might attack the Germans at 
Orleans on both sides, or one might engage and 
detain them there, while the other marched to 
relieve the capital. 

88 The Franco-German War. 

This, in fact, was what General Chanzy pro- 
posed. Since the 21st of December he had been 
resting in quarters in and about Le-Mans, where 
railways from four directions facilitated the arrival 
of new detachments. His troops had no doubt 
great difficulties to contend with. For lack of 
biUets for so large a force some had to camp out 
under tents in the snow, and suffered severely 
from the intense cold. The hospitals were full of 
wounded, and sjnall-pox broke out. On the other 
hand, these narrow quarters were favourable to the 
redistribution of the companies and the restoration 
of discipline. The news from Paris, too, urged 
the General to prompt action. 

General Trochu had sent word that Paris could 
not, unaided, repel the enemy. Even if a sortie 
should prove successful, the necessary provisions 
could not be carried through, and nothing but the 
simultaneous arrival of an army from without 
could secure supplies. Now General Chanzy 
was quite ready to march on Paris, but it was 
indispensable that he should first know exactly 
what Generals Bourbaki and Faidherbe were doing. 

Of course, the concerted action of the three great 
Army Corps could only be planned and ordered 
from head-quarters. The General therefore sent 
an officer of his Staff on the 23rd of December to 
Gambetta at Lyons, to express his opinion that 

Chanzy's Advance. 89 

only a prompt and combined advance could pre- 
vent the surrender of Paris. But the Minister 
believed that he knew better. The first ne^vs of a 
quite different employment of Bourbaki's army 
only reached Chanzy on the 29th, when Bourbaki 
was already on the march. Nor did Gambetta's 
reply convey either distinct orders or sufficient 
information. "Vous avez decime les Mecklem- 
bourgeois, les Bavarois n'existent plus, le reste 
de Tarm^e est ddja envahi par I'inquietude et la 
lassitude. Persistons et nous renverrons ces hordes 
hors du sol, les mains ^ddes." ^ The plan of the 
Provisional Government was to be that "which 
would most demoralize the German army." * 

Under such obscure instructions from head- 
quarters. General Chanzy, trusting to his own 
forces, determined to make his way to Paris un- 
aided; but he soon found himself in serious 

The Germans had no time to lose if they wished 
to profit by their position between the two hostile 
armies, advantageous so long as those armies were 
not too close upon them. The simultaneous at- 
tacks, on the 31st of December, at Vcndome on 

* *' You have decimated the Mecklenburgers, the Bavarians 
are wiped out, the rest of the army is a prey to uuHasiness and 
exhaustion. Let us persevere, and we shall drive these hordes 
off the land, empty-handed." 

' *^ Qui demoralisera le plus Tarmee Allemaude.*' 

90 The Franco-German War. 

the Loir, and at Briare on the Loire, seemed to 
indicate that they were already acting on a con- 
certed plan. 

On New Year's Day orders were telegraphed to 
Prince Frederick Charles to re-cross the Loir and 
march against General Chanzy without delay, as 
being the nearest and most imminently dangerous 
enemy. To effect this the ILid Army was 
strengthened by the addition of the Xlllth Corps 
of the Grand Duke of Mecklenburg (17th and 22nd 
Divisions) and the 2nd and 4th Divisions of 
Cavalry. The 5th Cavalry Division was des- 
patched to protect the advance on the left flank. 

Only the 25th (Hessian) Division was to be 
left in Orleans to receive General Bourbaki, and to 
keep a look-out on Gien. To provide against a 
possible advance of the Army of the Loire, General 
von Zastrow was posted at Arman9on with the 
Vllth Corps ; the Ilnd Corps was detached from 
the besieging force and sent forward towards 

Prince Frederick Charles expected to get three 
of his corps on the Vendome-Morde line by the 
6th of January, and to move the Xlllth from 
Chartres on Brou. 

The Advance on Le-Mans. 

The Germans had hoped to find the enemy in 
winter quarters ; but General Chanzy had provided 

Between Orleans and Le-Mans. 91 

against surprise by strong outposts. Nogent-le- 
Rotrou on his left was held by General Rousseau's 
Division, and a large force of volunteers ; strong 
detachments were posted from Vibraye and St. 
Calais, as far as the Braye stream, where General 
Jouffroy had come to a stand after the last action 
at Vendome ; on his right he had General Barry at 
La-Chartre, and de Curten's Division at Ch&teau- 

The wings of the German army came into col- 
lision with these forces on the 5th of January. 

General Baumgarth, on the German left, had 
brought three battalions, two regiments of cavalry 
and two batteries, as far as St.-Amand. The 
57th had stormed Villeporcher, on the road to 
Chateau-Renault, had retired before four battalions 
of the French, and then had recaptured and held 
it. This much, at any rate, was now clear : a not 
inconsiderable force of French was assembled in 
front of the left wing of the German army, now 
marching westward. In following up this move- 
ment General Baumgarth was now deputed to 
ensure its safety, and with this object was re- 
inforced by the addition of the 6th Cavalry 
Division and the 1st Cavalry Brigade. 

The 44th Brigade on the right, in its ad- 
vance on Nogent-le-Rotrou, had had a sharp 
encounter. It stormed the enemy's position at 
La-Fourche, and seized three guns, with a large 

92 The Franco-German War. 

number of prisoners. The main body of the Corps 
reached Beaumont-les-Autels and Brou, but the 
cavalry failed to penetrate the woods to the north 
of Nogent. 

January Qth. — By six in the morning the 
advanced guard of General Baumgarth's detachment 
was on the march to Pnmay, but the main body 
could not foUow, having to face a strong attack at 
about half-past nine. With a view to observing 
the enemy, the German infantry were opened 
out to great intervals between Villeporcher and 
Ambloy, and only a small reserve remained at La 
None. The engagement soon assumed wider 
proportions, and the Germans with difficulty 
maintained the Les-Haies — Pias line, being 
seriously threatened by the envelopment of their 
left wing, which the 6th Cavalry Division were 
now able to join, but could only come into action 
with one horse battery. The reserve, however, 
moved up along the high road to Ch&teau- Renault 
and repulsed the French, who had already made 
their way into Les-Haies. But when they renewed 
the attack in close columns and brought up four 
batteries against the place, the Germans were 
obliged to retire behind the Brenne. 

Meanwhile the 16th Regiment, which had 
already got as far as Ambloy on the march to 
Vendome, had turned back to St.-Amand to 
support General Baumgarth, and the 38th 

Between Orleans and Le-Mans. 93 

Brigade of infantry deployed between Neuve St.- 
Amand and St.-Amand with a strong force of 
cavalry on each wing. But as by some mistake 
the town was evacuated, the General of the 6th 
Division of Cavalry, Duke William of Mecklen- 
burg, ordered a retreat. The infantry had already 
come to a stand at Huisseau and there found 
quarters. The advanced guard fell back on 
Ambloy ; the cavalry partly on Ambloy and partly 
on Villeromain. 

During the engagement at St.-Amand the Xth 
Corps had advanced on Montoire, in two columns 
along the left bank of the Loire, leaving a bat- 
talion before Vend6me on the right, to secure the 
egress of the Ilird Corps at this spot. 

When the 20th Division reached St.-Rimay, at 
about one o'clock, they found the hills on the 
opposite side of the Loir . occupied by General 
Barry's troops. All the German batteries were 
brought up to the southern ridge of the valley 
and soon drove the French off the broad slopes ; 
but the defile of Les-Roches in the front remained 
quite unassailable. The ruined bridge at Lavar- 
din, lower down the stream, was therefore made 
practicable with pontoons. The 19th Division 
had meanwhile reached that place, several bat- 
talions crossed from the south to attack Les- 
Roches, and easily dislodged the French. As 
darkness came on, preventing any further ad- 

94 The Franco-German War. 

vance, the Corps found quarters in and about 

The General in command of the Ilird Corps 
had intended this day to make a halt before Ven- 
dome, and only push forward his advanced guard 
as far as the Azay ; but this detachment met ere 
long with such stout opposition, that the main 
force was compelled to advance to their assistance. 
General de Jouffroy, with the idea of helping 
General de Curten, had started to renew the attack 
on Vendome, so the advanced guard of the 5th 
Division, on reaching Villiers at about half-past 
one, found the 10th Battalion of Jiigers, which had 
been marching at the same time along the right 
bank of the Loir, engaged at Villiers in a sharp 
fight which had already lasted four hours. They 
brought their two batteries up to the plateau to 
the north of the village, and the 48th Regiment 
made its way to the ridge of the lower Azay 
valley, though its broad meadow slopes were swept 
by the French long-range rifles and the artillery 
which fired down the valley. And here the 
French sent over swarms of sharp-shooters to 
continue the attack. 

The 8th Regiment (Gennan) was presently 
brought up, and after a short fight on the right 
took possession of Le-Gu(5-du-Loir ; then further 
reinforcement arrived in the 10th Infantry 
Brigade, and by degrees the Prussian gims num- 

Between Orleans and Le-Mans. 95 

bered thirty-six. The French artillery could not 
face their fire, and within half an hour it was 
turned on the infantry. At about half-past four 
the German battalions got across the valley, seized 
the vineyards and farms on the opposite hills, and 
stormed Mazange. Under cover of the darkness 
the French retired to Lunay. 

Further to the right (German) the 6th Division, 
on leaving Vendome at eleven o'clock, found the 
battalion left by the Xth Corps at Courtiras 
fighting hard against a very superior force of 
the French. The 1 1th Brigade advanced upon the 
Azay intrenchment, though not without heavy 
loss, and when at about half-past three the 12th 
also came up, the artillery was brought to bear 
upon the place ; Azay was stormed, the river was 
crossed, and they established themselves on the 
heights beyond. The French repeatedly returned 
to the charge, but were successfully repulsed, and 
by five o'clock fighting was over and the French 
driven back. 

The Ilird Army Corps took up quarters between 
the Azay stream and the Loir. A detachment was 
told off to occupy Danze, higher up the river. 
It had lost thirty-nine officers and above 400 
men, but had also taken 400 prisoners. 

In the course of the day the IXth Corps crossed 
the upper Loir at Fr^teval and St. Hilaire, with- 
out opposition, and proceeded along the high road 

96 The Franco-German War. 

to St.-Calais, as far as Busloup. The Xlllth re- 
mained at Unverre, Beaumont, and La Fourche. 

Prince Frederick Charles had not been led into 
any change of pilrpose by the attack on St.- 
Amand and the obstinate fight at the Azay. The 
Xlllth Corps was expected to reach Montmirail, 
and the Xlth to be at Epuisay, both by the 11th of 
January ; the Illrd was to continue the attack 
on the French at Braye. But after the reverse 
experienced at St.-Amand, the presence of a 
strong French force on the left flank could not be 
suffered to pass unnoticed. Duke William was 
given verbal orders, at the head-quarters at 
Vendome, to return forthwith to St.-Amand 
with the 6th Division of Cavalry, and General von 
Voigts-Rhetz was ordered to support General 
Baumgarth, if necessary, with his whole corps. 

The country between the Loir and the Sarthe, 
through which the Germans must march, offers 
peculiar difficulties to an invading force, and great 
advantages for its defence. 

The roads leading to Le-Mans are all inter- 
sected at right angles by numerous streams flow- 
ing through broad and somewhat deep meadow 
valleys. Groves, villages, and country-houses with 
walled parks cover the cultivated high ground ; 
vineyards, orchards and gardens are enclosed by 
hedges, ditches or fences. Hence almost the whole 

Between Orleans and Le-Mans. 97 

burthen of the struggle in view had to be borne 
by the infantry ; there was no space for deploying 
cavalry, and the use of artillery must be extremely 
limited, since in a country so closely overgrown 
only one gim could be brought to bear at a time. 
The enemy's centre could only be approached 
by four high roads, and the communications 
between the columns, starting at least six miles 
apart, were confined to the cross roads, which 
were almost impassable from the severity of the 
season and the hostility of the inhabitants. Any- 
thing like mutual support was, at first, quite out 
of the question. 

Under these conditions their movements could 
only be guided by general instructions, and the 
officers must be left free to act on their own re- 
sponsibility. Special orders for each day, though 
they were indeed issued, might, in many cases, be 
impossible to execute. The Commander-in-Chief 
could not foresee in what relation the various corps 
might stand to each other after a day's fight. 
Reports could only come in at a late hour of the 
night, and the orders pre\'iously drawn up often 
came to hand when the troops, to utilize the short 
day, had already set out on the march. 

January 1th. — In obedience to orders from head- 
quarters. General Voigts-Rhetz sent that part of the 
19th Division which had already reached Vend6me, 


98 The Franco-German War. 

back to the support of St.-Amand. The 38th 
Brigade had reached this place early in the day, 
and General von Hartmann, who had taken the 
command of it, marched out, the cavalry forming 
a right and left wing, by the high road to Chateau- 

The advancing column found the enemy at Ville- 
chauve, at about mid-day. A thick fog prevented 
the employment of the artillery, and it was at the 
cost of many killed that Villechauve, Pias, and some 
other farms were seized from the French. Ville- 
porcher and the adjacent hamlets were in their 
possession, and at about two o'clock they came out 
and attacked on the high road with a force of 
several battalions. The weather had cleared, and 
it was soon evident that this move was only 
intended to screen the beginning of a retreat of the 
French to the westward. 

The Germans were quartered on the spot, and 
the reinforcements sent to their aid remained at 

The Xth Corps, waiting for their return, did 
not quit its quarters at La-Chartre ; only the 
14th Brigade of Cavalry went on to La-Richardiere 
to maintain communication with the Illrd. But 
they did not succeed in taking the village with 
only dismounted troopers. 

General von Alvensleben hoped to come upon 

Between Orleans and Le-Mans. 99 

the French on that side of the Braye, and to get 
round their left wing so as to join the Xth Corps, 
who had promised him assistance. The Ilird 
Corps made its way towards Epuisay, leaving 
one brigade at Mazange, and as soon as news 
reached it on the march, that the French had 
abandoned Lunay and Fortan, that brigade also 
proceeded to Fortan, 

Epuisay was found to be strongly occupied, for 
the advanced guard of the IXth Corps, retreating 
from Busloup, had just arrived there. It was not 
till half-past one that the French were expelled 
from the little town, having barricaded the streets ; 
and even after crossing the Braye they fought 
hard, under shelter of various villages and farm- 

A long fusilade on both sides was kept up 
through the thick fog ; but at last, at about four 
o'clock, the 12th German Brigade got forward 
to the ridge of the valley. The 9th Brigade took 
possession of Savigny without meeting any serious 
opposition, and Souge was stormed in the dusk. 

The corps had lost forty-five men and taken 200 
prisoners. It found quarters behind the Braye, 
but placed outposts on the western bank. 

The IXth Corps retired for the night to Epuisay 
though two corps lost their w^ay in one of the few 
roads in the neighboui'hood. On the right, the 

n 2 

icx) The Franco-German War. 

2iid Division of Cavalry went off to Mondoubleau, 
to join the Xlllth Corps. The French retreated to 

The order from head-quarters, that the Xlllth 
Corps was to march on Montmirail, had been 
issued on the hypothesis that it would have reached 
Nogent-le-Rotrou by the 6th, whereas it had in 
fact, as has been sho\vn, remained at La-Fourche, 
Beaumont, and Unverre. The Grand Duke, who 
had expected a stout resistance, did not set out 
to attack Nogent till the 7th. When the 22nd 
Division reached the spot, they found all the 
villages deserted in the valley of the Upper Huisne, 
and entered the town without any fighting, at 
about two o'clock. They took up quarters there ; 
the 4th Cavalry Division went to Thirion-Gardais, 
and only the advanced guard went to search for 
the enemy. They found the wood by Le-Gibet 
strongly occupied by the French, and did not 
succeed in getting there till night-fall. The French 
retired to La-Ferte-Bemard. 

The 17th Division had at fii'st gone with the 
reserve ; but at one o'clock, in consequence of the 
reports brought in, the Grand Duke diverted it to 
Authon on the south ; and in order to follow in- 
structions from head-quarters as closely as possible 
he pushed at least a detachment of two battalions, 
two cavalry regiments, and one battery on towards 

Between Orleans and Le-Mans. , loi 

Montmirail, under the command of General von 

January Sth. — Finding, on the morning of the 
8th, that the French had made no further attempt 
on St.-Amand, General von Hartmann, at nine 
o'clock, sent back the troops told off for his sup- 
port. At ten o'clock he received instinictions to 
join the XVIIIth Corps also ; but the French still 
held Villeporcher and the wood lying behind it, and 
were also drawn up across the road to Chateau- 
Renault in a very advantageous position behind 
the river Brenne. The General perceived the 
necessity of making a stand at this spot, and took 
the best means to that end by acting himself on 
the offensive. Supported by the fire of his battery, 
and with the cavalry on either flank, six companies 
of the 6th Regiment marched on Villeporcher, 
drove the defence into the wood of Ch&teau- 
Renault, and took 100 prisoners. On the left, the 
9th Uhlans rode down the Chasseurs d'Afrique. 
Not till darkness had set in did General von Hart- 
mann retire in the direction of Montoire. 

General von Voigts-Rhetz had already set out 
from thence very early in the day. The night's 
frost had covered the roads with ice, which greatly 
impeded any movement. The road on the right 
bank of the Loir was in many places broken up. It 
leads up and down a series of abrupt hollows, and 

I02 The Franco-German War. 

on emerging from these the advanced guard foimd 
themselves face to face with a force of about 1000 
Gardes-Mobiles, who had taken up a position in 
front of La-Chartre. Their mitrailleuses were 
soon forced to a hasty retreat by the fire of two 
field-pieces, but it was only after a prolonged 
struggle that the Gennan infantiy, moving with 
difficulty, succeeded in entering the town, where 
they took up their quarters. Two battalions, 
which were sent further on the road, had to fight 
for their night's lodging; all through the night 
shots were being exchanged with the French in 
the neighbourhood, and 230 prisoners were taken. 

The 39th Brigade, which left Ambloy in the 
morning to follow the corps, only got as far as 

General von Schmidt was sent to the right, to 
establish communications with the Illrd Corps. He 
was met at Vance by a brisk fire. The squadron 
which led the van made way for the horse battery, 
and a A'oUey of grape-shot drove the dismounted 
Cuirassiers behind the hedges for shelter. When 
two more guns could be got into position, a 
few rounds of canister dispersed a long colunm of 
French cavalry in every direction. 

Colonel von Alvensleben pursued the French 
cavalry ^^ath the 15th Regiment of Uhlans till they 
came upon a body of infantry guarding the stream 

Between Orleans and Le-Mans. 103 

of Etang-fort. The brigade stayed at Vance, after 
putting about 100 French out of action. 

Of the Ilird Corps the 6th Division had gone 
forward by St.-Calais. The French tried to 
line the trenches on greatly cut-up roads; but 
they did not await a serious attack, and made off, 
for the most part in carts which were in waiting. 
The 5th Division, proceeding in a parallel line on 
the left, met with no opposition ; but the state of 
the roads made the march very difficult. The 
corps halted at Bouloire. The 9th, coming up 
behind them, entered St.-Calais. 

The Grand Duke had moved both Divisions 
of the Xlllth Corps on La-Fertd-Bemard. On 
their way they came across none but stragglers, 
but they found the roads in such a state that 
not till four in the afternoon did they reach the 
town and settle into quarters. The French had 
retired to Connerr^. The 4th Cavalry Division 
was to secure the right flank on the further 
advance, but could not get as far as Bell^me; 
on the other hand. General von Ranch's detach- 
ment, despatched to Montmirail, surprised the 
French in Vibraye, and took possession of the 
bridge there over the Braye. 

By the evening of that day the forces forming 
the German right and left wings were at an equal 
distance from Le-Mans, on the single high road 

104 The Franco-German War. 

which leads across from La-Fert^-BemiEird by St.- 
Calais and La-Chartre; the Illrd Corps was 
further in advance, with an interval of a long 
march. A closer combination of the forces could 
only be assured by a further advance along the 
converging highways. Prince Frederick Charles 
therefore issued an order, at ten o'clock that 
evening, for the Xth Corps to march next day 
to Parignd-l'Eveque, the Ilird to Ardenay, and 
the Xlllth as far ahead as Montfort, each send- 
ing an advanced guard beyond those points. 
The IXth was to follow in the centre, while 
General von Hartmann was to protect Vend6me 
with the 38th Brigade and the 1st Division of 

But the mere distance was too great to allow of 
the wings being brought so rapidly to the points 
designated; and on the 9th of January snow- 
storms, ice-bound roads, and a thick fog still 
further impeded their progress. 

January 9th. — General von Hartmann marched 
his infantry brigade on Chdteau Renault, and 
entered the town by one o'clock. Curten's Division 
(French) had started early in the day for St.- 

The Xth Corps, though incomplete, retreated 
this day, in two columns ; General von Woyna's 
detachment was to march from Pont-de-Braye by 

Between Orleans and Le-Mans. 105 

Vanc(5, the remainder of the corps from La Chartre 
via Brives, to meet at Grand-Luc^. 

The 20th Division had scarcely set out, by this 
route, from L'Honmie, when they came under a 
sharp fire of shell and bullets. In this place 
there happened, for once, to be room for three 
batteries to advance, but in the heavy, snow-fall 
aim was out of the question. The German infan- 
try, however, by degrees drove the French out of 
various hamlets and farmsteads, and back across 
the Brives. To pursue them beyond that stream a 
bridge must have been thrown across, with some 
loss of time, and then Chahaignes would have had 
to be seized. 

But in the narrow valley which lay before them 
they expected some rather hot work. The nature 
of the road was such that the artillerymen and 
cavalry had to dismount and lead the horses. The 
General in command rode on a gun-carriage ; his 
staff went on foot. Some horses which had fallen 
in front stopped the way for the column ; the 
artillery were then sent back to try next day to 
come on by the Vanc6 road. 

To facilitate the march of the 20th Division, 
General von Woyna had been instructed to deviate 
from his direct road and attack the enemy's left. 
When he approached the hoUow, there was no 
sound of fighting there, and the detachment was 

io6 The Franco-German War. 

turned back at Vance ; but at Brives, at about 
half-past three, the main column met with fresh 
resistance, being received with a brisk fire from 
the heights north-east of the village. Not even 
the infantry could move beyond the high road, so 
there was no alternative ; they must march straight 
on. Meanwhile, however, the 30th Brigade came 
up and drove off the enemy. 

It was half-past six in the evening, and quite 
dark, when Colonel von Valentini set out for St.- 
Pierre with four battalions, and there took 100 
French prisoners and a loaded baggage train of 
100 waggons. 

The Xth Corps spent the night with its van as 
far forward as Brives and Vance, but its rear 
straggled as far back as the valley of the Loir. Nor 
had the 14th Brigade of Cavalry been able to make 
any headway. 

Of the Ilird Corps the 6th Division had proceeded 
by the high road, beyond Bouloire, with the 
artillery corps ; the 5th had moved on, on the left, 
by cross roads. 

The advanced guard of the Ilird Corps, after a 
smart brush, had expelled the French from a 
position in front of Ardenay, but at two o'clock 
had to repel a determined attack there. After 
General de Jouffroy h?id withdrawn to the south 
of St.-Calais, General Chanzy had pushed the 

Between Orleans and Le-Mans. 107 

Division tinder Paris forward from thence towards 
Le-Mans. He had taken up a position near 
Ardenay, occupying the chateau on the right, and 
placing four guns and two mitrailleuses on the left 
close to La-Butte. To oppose these there was only 
room on the road for two German field-pieces, which, 
however, in the course of half an hour had silenced 
the mitrailleuses, and then carried on the unequal 
contest with the greatest obstinacy. At about four 
o'clock five companies of the 12th Brigade stormed 
the chateau, while othei's, crossing the meadow- 
land to the right, forced their way through a 
clump of trees to La-Butte. As night came on the 
French tried to effect a general attack along the 
high road ; but this w^as repulsed, and the Bran- 
denburgers, defying the steady firing of the 
defenders, took La-Butte and Ardenay with a rush 
and loud cheers, without firing a shot. The 
French were driven back into the valley of the 
Narais, losing many prisoners. 

On the right a detachment, consisting of one 
battalion, two squadrons, and two guns, had ad- 
vanced with the 6th Division. They drove before 
them numbers of Franc-tireurs, but at La-Belle- 
Liutile they met with more serious resistance. 
The post had already been carried by the 24th, who 
possessed themselves of a large ammunition and 
provision train, and took above 100 unwounded 

io8 The Franco-German War. 

prisoners. Count zu Lynar then prepared the 
village for defence. 

The 5th Division had met with no opposition, 
but the state of the roads had seriously delayed its 
progress. It was not till the afternoon that the 
head reached the Narais at Gu6 de T Aune and took 
up quarters there and to the rear as far as St. 
Mars de Locquenay. The advanced guard went 
on, however, to La Buzardiere, thus forming 
the van of the whole army; Parign^-rEveque, 
on their left flank, was in the hands of the 

The IX th Corps had followed the Ilird to Bou- 

No orders from head-quarters had as yet reached 
La-Ferte when, at nine in the morning, the Grand 
Duke marched on Connerre with the Xlllth Corps. 
Soon after midday the 17th Division came upon 
the French near Sceaux, and after an obstinate 
struggle, advancing all the time, drove them first 
out of the villages and then off the road. The 
French, who had retreated to Connerrd by forced 
night marches, lost above 500 prisoners in this 
small affair. But the short day was closing in and 
the advanced guard halted at dusk at Duneau. A 
detachment, on going further, found Conuerr6 
occupied by the French, and many watch-fires 
were blazing in the vaUey of the Due. The main 

Between Orleans and Le-Mans. 109 

force of the German infantry found quarters in and 
around Sceaux. 

Ranch's detachment, being ordered to rejoin the 
Corps, took possession of Le-Croset, and of the 
bridge over the Due near that village, and then 
expelled the French from Thorign^. 

The French stayed in Connerr6 only till the even- 
ing ; then, leaving a company in occupation, they 
continued their retreat. This inevitably led them 
from the left bank of the Huisne through the 
quarters taken up by the Ilird German Corps, who 
were disturbed all night by wandering detach- 
ments of French soldiers, even at Nuill^, where the 
head-quarters of the Division were established. 

On the extreme German right the 4th Division 
of Cavalry had occupied BeUeme, after driving 
out the French battalion, which had likewise been 
ordered thither. 

By this day the centre of the Ilnd Army Corps 
had also got within two miles of Le-Mans, fighting 
all the way; while the two wings were stiU at 
some distance behind. As it was probable that 
the French would give battle in some strong posi- 
tion beyond the Huisne, it seemed advisable to 
await the arrival of the Xth and Xlllth Corps ; 
on the other hand, this was giving the French time 
to collect their forces also. By attacking at once, 
two of their Divisions, now at Chateau-Renault 

no The Franco-German War. 

and Le-Chartre, could scarcely be brought up 
quickly enough, and the rest of their army, now 
concentrating on Le-Mans, were involved in fight- 
ing at a disadvantage on all sides. Prince Frede- 
rick Charles therefore sent the Ilird Corps to 
scour the country beyond Ardenay ; the Xth was 
to advance on Parigne, and the Xlllth on St. 
Mars-la-Bruy^re, though that place could scarcely 
be reached from the positions actually occupied 
by the corps that night. 

As we have seen, the army assembled near 
Le-Mans was still acting on the offensive on 
January 6th ; General Jouffroy advancing on 
Vendome, and Curten on St.-Amand. But on 
the 7th the French found their whole front, ten 
miles in length, reduced to the defensive. General 
Rousseau, on the left wing, had evacuated Nogent- 
le-Rotrou, and, without being hardly pressed, be- 
gan his retreat by a night march to Connerre. In 
the centre, the crossing of the Brayc was wrested 
from General Jouffroy; he retired from St.- 
Calais, not on Le-Mans, but to join General Barry 
to the south. On the right. General de Curten 
abandoned Chateau-Renault, and set out, unpui*- 
sued, on the road past Chitteau-du-Loir. To 
bring about some concerted movement of the 
three Divisions of his right wing, General Chanzy 
placed them under the superior orders of Admiral 

Outside Le-Mans. hi 

Jaur^guibeny ; he sent the Paris Division on to 
Ardenay by the road General Jouffroy had aban- 
doned, and reinforced General Rousseau on the 
left, by ordering three Divisions to support him 
on either side of his line of retreat. General 
Jouffroy was to return to Parign^-l'Eveque, and 
a Division was sent to meet him there and at 

General de Curten succeeded on the 9th in 
checking the progress of the left German wing 
for some time close to Chahaignes; but Paris's 
Division was driven back on Ardenay, and General 
Rousseau, thus surrounded, abandoned Connerr^ 
the same evening. The two Divisions of the right 
wing withdrew to Jupilles and Nuill^-Pont- 

Under these circumstances General Chanzy's 
commands were that on the 10th Jouflfroy's Divi- 
sions should fall back on Parign^-l'Eveque, and 
the Paris Division march once more towards Arde- 
nay. He sent the remaining three Divisions of 
the XXIst Corps to meet General Rousseau, with 
instructions to retake Connerre and Thorigne. 

These intended attacks on both sides gave rise 
to the fierce battle which, on the German side, 
was fought by the Ilird Corps single-handed. 

112 The Franco-German War. 

Battle of Le-Mans. 
(10th, 11th, and 12th of January.) 

January lOf A. — The fight at Parign4 and Change. 
As, owing to the nature of the country, deep 
columns could not deploy without great loss of time. 
General von Alvensleben advanced on a wider 
front of small subdivisions, moving with intervals 
in front of and between Gu^-de-l'Aune and Arde- 
nay, with the 9th and 11th Infantry Brigades 
next to Change. On his right the 12th marched 
along the high road to Le-Mans ; on his left the 
10th were to start from Volnay if Parigne were 
found abandoned by the French, and leaving that 
place on their left, were also to make for Chang^. 

Parign^ had, in fact, been deserted by the 
French, but had been reoccupied before daybreak 
by Deplanque's Division ; and before the German 
troops had started, the far-advanced posts, towards 
the wood of Loudon, were smartly attacked by 
the French. The greater part of the 9th Brigade 
had to be brought up by degrees between Blinieres 
and the edge of the wood, but only seven guns 
could be brought into play against the strong 
French artillery. General von Stulpnagel decided 
to reserve his strength for the struggle at Chang^, 
and not to carry on a sustained contest here, 

Battle of Le-Mans. 113 

which must be decided as soon as the 10th Brigade 
on the left should make its appearance. 

This brigade, delayed by the difficulties of the 
march, did not reach Challes till noon; but it 
brought two batteries to strengthen the German 
artillery, which now cleared the way for the 
infantry attack on Parigne, which stood on high 
ground. In half an hour the battalions rushed on 
the place with shouts of " Hurrah for Brandenburg ! " 
taking a gun which the enemy had abandoned, 
and two mitrailleuses fetiU being served. When 
the French returned to try to recover them they 
were repulsed, and lost another field-piece, two 
colours and several waggons. After losing 2150 
prisoners they fled to the shelter of the forest 
of Ruaudin. To keep a watch here, General 
von Stulpnagel left two battalions at Parign^, and 
proceeded at once to Chang<5 in two columns. In 
front of this village, at about three o'clock, the 
11th Brigade had met with a violent resistance by 
the Gud-Perray, from the other brigades of 
Deplanque's Division. The 36th Regiment of 
the 2nd Battalion lost nine officers and above 
100 men in a severe struggle at Les-Gars. The 
General in command, who was on the spot, dis- 
lodged both flanks of the enemy from strong posi- 
tions, and on the left two companies succeeded in 
crossing the stream at La Goudriere. 


114 The Franco-German War. 

These at four o'clock came into contact with the 
advanced guard of the 9th Brigade, which Colonel 
Count von der Groeben had brought on from 
Parign^, taking possession of the Chateau of 
Girardrie on the way. As the two companies of the 
11th Brigade sent up to the right reached Auvign6 
at the same time, the "General Advance" was 
sounded. Auvigne was stormed, the bridge north 
of Gu^-la-Hart was crossed, and that village taken 
after a hard fight. About 1000 prisoners were 
again taken from the flying French. 

It was already dark, and Change, the goal of 
the struggle, was not yet won. But when a 
barricade outside the village had been demolished 
it was found that the 10th Brigade was already 
in possession. This brigade, on its way along the 
high road from Parigne, had met with resistance 
both at Chef-Raison and Paillerie. Having only 
two guns, they failed to silence the French artillery, 
but General von StUlpnagel left a battalion here 
too, to watch the enemy, and hurried forward 
^vith part of the brigade to support the Germans 
at Gu^-la-Hart ; the rest were to attack Change. 

Here the French had already been for the most 
part dismissed to quarters, but they soon formed 
and ojflfered a determined resistance. There was a 
long and fierce street-fight, which ended in about 
an hour's time, by the whole garrison of 800 men, 

Battle of Le-Mans. 115 

who had crowded into the market-place, surrender- 
ing as prisoners. 

The 12th Brigade had at last got off from 
Ardenay, but not till eleven o'clock; they pro- 
ceeded unchecked along the high road as far as 
St. -Hubert, where they seized an abandoned com- 
missariat train. Having aligned themselves with 
the rest of their corps they halted for a while, 
but soon after they were attacked by French 
artillery; and the enemy again advancing along 
the highway, General von Buddenbrock likewise 
advanced to the attack, and drove the French 
out of Champagne, some across the Huisne, 
and some back on the hUls behind the village. 
Two guns then successfully defied the fire of the 
French artillery near Lune-d'Auvours, and the 
infantry expelled them from that shelter also. 

Further to the right a German battalion had 
taken St.-Mars-la-Bruyere after a slight skirmish, 
and was subsequently joined there by General 
Count zu Lynar. 

Thus the Ilird Corps had by this time taken 
more than 5000 prisoners and many valuable 
trophies, by equal skill and good fortune ; it had 
indeed left 450 men for dead. 

The Xth Corps had started that same day from 
Vanc^ and Brives, and had reached Grand-Luc6, 
but not till two o'clock, unobstructed by the 

I 2 

ii6 The Franco-German War. 

French, but along very heavy roads. Here they 
took up their quarters. 

The IXth Corps remained at Nuill^. 

Of the Xlllth Corps, the 17th Division had 
continued its advance along the left bank of the 
Huisne, and had found Connerr^ already deserted 
by the French. But on the further side of the 
river, the heights of Cohernieres, the railway 
station and the wood on the north, were occupied 
by the 2nd Division of the French XXIst Corps. 
General von Ranch led two battalions to attack 
them from the south, while from the east the 
22nd Division was brought up, ha^dng crossed 
the Huisne at Sceaux and gone on to Beill6 
along the right bank. The French made a stout 
resistance, and the fight lasted with varying 
fortunes till darkness came on. The Ch&teau of 
Coul^on and several villages at the foot of the 
wooded hills were taken by the Germans, but the 
French maintained their hold on the heights and 
their position at Cohernieres. 

The 17th Division had meanwhile continued 
its advance, along roads frozen till they were 
as smooth as glass, and reached La-Belle-Inutile ; 
the 22nd passed the night at Beillc. 

This division had that morning sent a detach- 
ment to Bonn^table, whither the 4th Cavalry 
Division had already proceeded. The 12th 

Battle of Le-Mans. 117 

Cavalry Brigade followed as far as Belleme. 
Colonel von Beckedorif then marched forward to 
Chanteloup, whence he drove out tlie French in 
spite of an obstinate defence. 

General Chanzy had resolved on a decisive 
engagement before Le-Mans. Curten's Division 
had not yet arrived, and only a part of Barry's 
had come up, still the army from the camp, at 
Coulie amounted to 10,000 men. The right wing 
of the French position rested on the Sarthe ; the 
centre extended above a mile along the Chemin- 
aux-Boeufs, and the left, making a slight bend, 
rested on the Huisne. Barry's Division, already 
weakened by reverses, and General Lalande's Na- 
tional Guards — an ill-disciplined and ill-armed 
troop — were placed on the right where the danger 
was least. Deplanque's and Roquebnme's Divi- 
sions, with Desmaison's Brigade and Jouffroy's 
Division, held the centre and the left, Jouffroy 
facing General von Alvensleben. Behind this 
Kne Bouedec's Division and Colonel Marty's troops 
were placed in reserve. These 50,000 to 60,000 
men under Admiral Jaur^guiberry, very suffi- 
ciently defended the position between the two 
rivers, which was well protected by earth-works 
at the most important points. Five other Divi- 
sions, under the command of General de Colomb, 
stood on the other side of the river, about two 

Ii8 The Franco-German War. 

miles distant, the Paris Division at Yvre ; Gou- 
geard's still occupying the heights of Auvours to 
the north of Champagne, Rousseau's at Montfort 
and Pont-de-Gesnes, Collin s in a bow-shaped posi- 
tion at Lombron, while Villeneuve's, quite on the 
flank, faced Chanteloup. 

January Wth. — On this day the Ilird German 
Army Corps was standing exactly opposite the 
main body of the Flinch forces. It could not for 
the present hope for any support from the corps 
on its wing, and had a hard struggle before it. 

On the left, the Xth Corps was still at Grand 
Luc^ that morning, and on the right the Xlllth 
Corps had been detained on the previous day by 
the obstinate resistance of the French, who had 
held their own between Les-Cohemieres and La- 
Chapelle, and occupied Le-Chene in their front. 

The 22nd Division had been thrown into 
great confusion in the course of the struggle in 
the wood, and it was not till they had been re- 
formed and the enemy's position had been recon- 
noitred by both the Generals of Division that the 
fighting could be renewed, at about eleven o'clock. 

Two battalions of the 17th Division and one 
battery had been left in a post of observation in 
front of Pont-de-Gesnes, on the southern bank of 
the Huisnes ; on the northern side, the Mecklen- 
burg battalions stonned Cohemieres in the after- 

Battle of Le-Mans. 119 

noon, and after a sharp contest, in conjunction 
with the Hessians forced their way to the west- 
ward as far as the Gue and on towards Lombron 
at about four o'clock. 

Further to the right, two companies of the 
90th Regiment of the 22nd Division had mean- 
while taken Le Chene, in spite of a stout defence ; 
the 83rd Regiment, after a sharp fire from the 
guns, had taken the farms of Flouret and La 
Grande Metairie. Colonel von Beckedorif, on 
being relieved at Chanteloup by the 4th Division 
of Cavalry, had driven the French out of 
St.-Celerin and advanced to La-Chapelle-St.-R<!*my, 
to the right of the division, which occupied a large 
extent of ground behind the points it had seized. 

The Mecklenburg Grenadiers had held their own 
for a long time at Le-Gue and La-Brosse against 
superior numbers attacking from Pont-de-Gesnes ; 
and the main body of the 17th Division retired 
that evening on Connerre. 

But the more completely General von Alvens- 
leben was thrown on his own resources the more 
important it seemed to keep the troops in close 
connection. A strong force of the enemy was on 
his flank, nay, almost in his rear, on the hills of 
Auvours, and only kept at bay by the 12th 
Brigade, which, being thus engaged, could not at 
present advance to his assistance. 

I20 The Franco- German War. 

And it was there that the battle began. The 
French had repossessed themselves of Champagne, 
and their artillery formed line under cover of 
the ridge. When their fire had been somewhat 
checked by four of the German gims, two battalions 
advanced to the attack. It was not till eleven 
o'clock, after an obstinate contest, that the 
French were driven back to the heights, and the 
bridge over the Huisne was taken. General von 
Buddenbrock now placed two battalions in a post 
of obsei'vation, sent a third to Lune-d'Auvours, 
and by noon returned with the rest of the brigade 
to rejoin the corps. 

Meanwhile the conflict had been raging with 
such fury all along the front that at twelve o'clock 
Prince Frederick Charles sent orders from St.- 
Hubert to General Voigts-Rhetz, to proceed with all 
speed to the field with the Xth Corps ; and at the 
same time General von Manstein was instructed to 
seize the heights of Auvours with the IXth. 

It was one o'clock before the advanced guard of 
the IXth marched up the hollow way through 
deep snow-drifts. They were followed by two 
battalions of the 12th Brigade, bringing up two 
batteries with the greatest difficulty. The German 
infantry plunged into the wood, which was full of 
French soldiers, in the direction of Villiers ; the 
11th Regiment of Fusiliers seized three mitrail- 

Battle of Le-Mans. 121 

leuses that were being served, and as soon as the 
French had abandoned the position, turned them 
on the wood. 

Further to the left, at about three o'clock, two 
battalions of the 85th Regiment were detached 
from the main body of the 18th Division, to pro- 
ceed to the western end of the ridge, supported by 
the Jagers and two batteries which were posted at 
Les-H^tres. To protect them, two companies 
moved on to La-Lune, hindering the French from 
crowding down on the high road. But in opposi- 
tion to this movement the French opened a severe 
fire from their elevated batteries behind Yvr^; 
notwithstanding this, the Holsteiners on the left 
rushed on a French battery and seized three of 
its guns. On the right they took possession of a 
neighbouring farmstead; and soon after five the 
French had vanished from the high ground to the 
western ridge. 

Here, however, a strong counter-attack had to 
be met that same evening, for part of Gougeard's 
Division marched up the slope from Yvre. Their 
further advance was effectually stopped ; but they 
could not be prevented from remaining there for 
the evening and night. Still, by this struggle the 
18th Division had kept open the rear and flank 
of the Ilird Corps. It was again required that 
evening to secure the crossing of the Huisne during 

122 The Franco-German War. 

the night for use next day ; so three battalions and 
one battery went down to the northern bank and 
repulsed the French troops in possession of the 
bridge. The division had lost 275 men. 

General von Alvensleben had postponed the 
advance of the Ilird Corps till eleven o'clock, 
hoping for the arrival of the 12th Brigade. 

During the night the French completed the 
works on the skirts of the wood and took up a 
position there ; they also occupied the high bank 
on the opposite side of the river, where they had 
brought up several batteries. Thus a direct attack 
would involve heavy loss, and it was impossible to 
out-flank such extensive lines. General von 
Alvensleben therefore decided on advancing at 
first only against the enemy's left wing, and sent 
forward the 11th Brigade. The 10th and 9th 
remained in reserve for the present, at Chang^ and 
Gu^-la-Hart. The 12th, released at Mont-Auvours, 
were also advancing, but by a circuitous route, 
because the high road was everywhere commanded 
by the batteries above. 

The 11th Brigade, scarcely 3000 strong, followed 
the course of the Gue-Perray streamlet, roxmd the 
northern end of the wood. To protect it against 
the French columns which threatened it from the 
heights, the 35th Regiment formed line on the 
brook and occupied the Ch&teau of Les-Arches. 

Battle of Le-Mans. 123 

The 20th tried to get forward by the cattle-path, 
and while holding the Chdteau of Les-Noyers and 
the bridge there over the Huisnes, drove off the 
French by sheer hard fighting, as far as Les- 
Granges. But they presently returned with so 
strong a force that the whole brigade was gradually 
brought up into the fii'ing line. Les-Granges 
was lost and retaken several times with heavy loss, 
particularly of officers; but the Brandenburgers 
fought steadily on. 

On their left the 10th Brigade now made its 
appearance, having come up from Change at one 
o'clock. By two, the 52nd Regiment had posses- 
sion of the farm of Le-Pavillon, of the wooded 
slope in front and the farm of Grand- Anneau, but 
their loss was severe. Strong columns of the 
French coming up from Pontlieue were driven 
back, two batteries were got forward xmder heavy 
fire from the Chassepots to within 800 paces of Le 
Tertre, and yet the 12th Regiment did not succeed 
in getting into the farmstead till two battalions of 
the 9th Brigade had come to their assistance from 
Chang^. The position was taken by storm at 
about five o'clock, with the help of the 8th Regi- 
ment of the Grenadier Life Guards. The 52nd 
Regiment, having spent all its ammunition, had 
to be taken out of action, but the battalion of 
.Grenadiers rushed do^vn on the cattle-path, taking 

124 The Franco-German War. 

two French guns which were firing on them, after 
a desperate conflict; but the enemy's repeated 
attempts to recover them were steadily frustrated. 
A battery which the French were bringing up on 
the western side of the wood was driven back by 
rapid volleys. 

When it was foimd that the 35th Regiment 
must be brought back from the Gud-Perray to 
support the 20th, the French recovered possession 
of Les- Arches. Here the 12th Brigade had arrived 
from Auvours at two o'clock, only three battalions 
strong ; the 64th, however, recaptured the ch&teau 
after a short fight. The overwhelming storm of 
fire from the artillery and musketry on the oppo- 
site side of the river hindered the Germans from 
getting up their guns, and it was only with great 
difficulty and the loss of many gunners that the 
pieces were brought away again ; but every attack 
on the position by the French from Yvre was 
steadily repulsed. 

It was now quite dark, but the firing had not 
ceased. The Ilird Corps had taken 600 prisoners, 
but had lost 500 killed. It had fought its way 
into the heart of the French position, and its out- 
posts were in close proximity to the enemy's front. 
And now, though late, strong reinforcements 

The Xth Corps had moved from Grand-Luc6 to 

Battle of Le-Mans. 125 

the westward early in the day, to block the high 
road from Tours to Le-Mans, but the frozen state 
of the ground again delayed it on the way, so 
that it only reached Teloche in the afternoon. 

The sound of firing to the northward left it 
in no doubt that General von Alvensleben was 
fighting a great battle. The orders sent from 
headquarters at St,-Hubert reached General 
Voigts-Rhetz at noon ; but he then judged, and 
very rightly, that his assistance would now be 
more effective on the enemy's flank than on the 
field where the Ilird Corps was engaged. So in 
spite of the exhausted state of his men, who had 
had no hot meal on the way, he at once pushed 

To protect himself against Curten's Division, 
probably at Chfi.teau-du-Loir, he despatched one 
battalion to Ecommoy. It was received with 
firing from the houses, surrounded in the darkness, 
and compelled to withdraw from the place ; but it 
kept the road clear in the rear of the corps. 

The head of the 20th Division found Mulsanne 
feebly defended, and drove the detachment back 
beyond the cutting of La-Monnerie. 

The nature of the country here afforded great 
advantages to the French. Ditches and fences 
were good cover for firing from, farmsteads and 
copses excellent positions for defence. Only eight 

126 The Franco-German War. 

guns could be brought to bear against the enemy's 
artillery ; but nevertheless four battalions (West- 
phalians and Brunswickers) persistently repelled 
the French, and by night-fall had got as far as 
Point-du-Jour. The conflict only ceased at the 
cattle-path by Les-Mortes-Aures. Here the French 
held the whole plain before them, by the continu- 
ous running fire, kept up from behind lines of 
shelter-trenches rising one above the other. 

The battle wavered for a long time, but the 
German left presently gained ground. The 1st 
Battalion of the 17th Regiment rushed on the 
enemy, who returned their fire at the shortest pos- 
sible range, and then made for the wood ; and when 
the drums of the 1st Battalion of the 56th Regi- 
ment were heard at Point-du-Jour, beating the 
charge, the French carried away their mitrailleuses 
and evacuated Les-Mortes-Aures. 

This battalion had received orders to end the 
struggle at the point of the bayonet. Captain von 
Monbart led the attack at the double in close 
order ; all the companies at hand joined in it, 
and in spite of a steady fire from the cover of the 
wood, La-Tuilerie was carried by half-past eight ; 
and here the brigade re-formed, while the 37th 
stood ready to support it at a spot beyond at Mul- 
sanne. The French vanished in the darkness. 
The constant roll of wheels, the noise of de- 

Battle of Le-Mans, 127 

parting railway trains and a confusion of cries 
announced their flight. Still the prisoners, who 
were brought in in numbers, all agreed that 
a strong force was encamped in the woods. 
Watch-fires blazed there through the night, and 
instead of resting, the troops must have been pre- 
paring to meet a fresh attack. By about half-past 
ten the outposts reported the approach of a strong 
force of the French from Pontlieue. 

Hitherto the Germans had only had to deal with 
National Guards under General Lalande at this 
point, a force not much to be relied on ; but the 
Admiral now sent Bouedec's Division against La- 
Tuilerie, with General Roquebrune's to support 
their advance. 

The battalions in the first lines were under fire 
for above an hour in a perfect storm of projectiles, 
but no serious attack was attempted. 

According to French reports, their officere 
strove in vain to induce their troops to advance ; 
they constantly gave way. And a subsequent 
effort with the Garde-Mobile was equally fruit- 

Still, there was to be no rest. At two in the 
morning the din of fighting again made itself 
heard on the right. Deplanque's Division had 
been disturbed by a flanking force of the 40th 
Brigade, who had been marching along the road 

128 The Franco-German War. 

from Ruaudin to Pontlieue, to be at hand in case 
of need ; without returning the enemy's fire, they 
had attacked the detachment holding Epinettes 
and took possession of it, close to the cattle- 

January \2th. — Only the Ilird and Xth Corps 
could be reckoned on for the inevitable battle next 
day. The other two could only afford indirect 
assistance by keeping part of the French forces 
otherwise engaged. 

Of the Xlllth Corps the 17th Division was 
to proceed via Lombron to St.-Comeille, without 
allowing themselves to be dra-wn into a fray with 
the enemy still occupying the banks of the 
Huisne; the 22nd was ordered from La-Cha- 
pelle to Savigne. The little river Gu6 could easily 
be held, and part of the artillery was left at Con- 
nerr6 with the 7th Brigade of Cavalry, 

In their advance the Germans found that the 
enemy had already abandoned Lombron, Pont- 
de-Gesnes, and Montfort. Scattered arms and 
equipment betrayed how hastily they had fled. 

Several stragglers were brought in, and it was 
not till reaching the Merdereau, at about noon, 
that the 17th Brigade met with any opposition. 
An attack from all sides dislodged the French from 
the Ch&teau of Hyre and from St.-Comeille at 
about four o'clock, and 500 French were taken 

Battle of Le-Mans. 129 

prisoners. They were then driven back behind 
the Parance, where the advanced guard halted at 

Colonel von BeckedorfTs detachment of the 
22nd Division had marched on Chanteloup from 
Sille, repulsing the French on La-Croix, where 
a large body of their troops made a stand. 
But when, after a long delay, the main body of 
the division arrived, the Germans attacked at 
once. Whole regiments of French here laid down 
their arms, and 3000 men surrendered, ^7ith 
several officers. 

An attempt of the German cavalry to get across 
the Sarthe to break up the railway conmiunication 
was, however, xmsuccessful. 

The force occupying the ridge of Auvours had 
surrendered in a body. The 35 th Brigade 
marched up to Villiers, but patrols sent ahead 
brought news that the French had retired behind 
the Huisne. 

When the noise of fighting at St.-Comeille was 
heard at mid-day, the brigade was ordered to pro- 
ceed northward to support the 17th Division 
engaged there. The 84th Regiment, passing by 
La-Commune, lent valuable assistance in the 
attack on Ch&teau-Hyre. Outposts were left 
by the Parance for the night, but the main 
body of the brigade returned to Fatines, and the 


130 The Franco-German War. 

36th took up quarters between Villiers and St.- 

By the battle of the previous day the French 
position before Le-Mans had been forced ; but they 
still stood firm behind the Huisnes, and as their left 
wing had been driven back on their centre, that 
point had been considerably strengthened. Still, 
the stream must be crossed, the steep slope must 
be climbed, where every hedge of the terraced 
vineyards was held by strong firing lines, and 
where the heights were crowned with batteries. 
The ford by Yvr^, on the left, was very strongly 
protected, and the ground in front of the wood 
of Pontlieue had been made impassable in many 
places by abattis. Against such a position the 
artillery could do little, and the cavalry nothing, 
while deep snow hampered every movement of 
the infantry. General von Alvensleben therefore 
decided for the present on acting only on the 
defensive with his right wing, while with his left 
he prepared to support General von Voigts-Rhetz 
in his advance. 

The troops were roused from their short rest 
at six in the morning. Two companies of French 
were making their way towards the bridge at 
Ch&teau-Les-Noyers with powder-bags, but they 
were compelled to retreat, leaving the explosives 
behind them. At about eight o'clock the French 

Battle of Le-Mans. 131 

made a determined attack on the outposts of the 
12th Regiment, quartered in the wood, and drove 
them in as far back as Le-Tertre. Again the fight 
raged furiously round this farmstead, which was 
almost demolished by shell. One by one the last 
battalions of the 10th Brigade were drawn into the 
struggle, whilst detachments whose ammunition 
was exhausted were ordered out of it. Only four 
guns could fire with any effect, but by eleven o'clock 
the French volleys gradually died away, and they 
were seen to retire on Pontlieue. The battalions 
of the left wing pursued, and came out on the 
Parign^ road in immediate touch with the Xth 

General von Voigts-Rhetz had left two batta- 
lions at Mulsanne, for protection from Ecommoy ; 
the whole Corps, after many unavoidable detach- 
ments had been detailed from it, was assembled 
by about half-past seven to march forward on 
Pontlieue. The main body of the 20th Division 
was to diverge along the Mulsanne road to go 
to LarTuilerie. Three battalions of the 19th 
Division were to meet at Ruaudin to strengthen 
the detachment occupying Epinettes, while two 
battalions and the 14th Cavalry Brigade took the 
road to Parign^, with the Corps' artillery, which 
could be of no service in the plain further to the left. 

Reinforcements had meanwhile arrived at Ruau- 
K 2 

J 32 The Franco-German War. 

din, and General von Wojma made his way without 
hindrance through the woods to La-Source, where 
he halted at one o'clock, having formed line on 
the 20th Division. These had already brought a 
heavy battery into action, driving back the French 
mitrailleuses beyond Pontlieue. On the right, a 
light battery of the 19th Division was brought up 
to La-Source, and ten horse-artillery guns as far as 
the Parign^ road. The atmosphere was, however, 
so thick that their fire could only be directed by the 

At two o'clock General von Kraatz advanced in 
close column on Pontlieue, whither General von 
Woyna was now also marching. The southern 
side of the village was taken after a short struggle ; 
but on the further side of the Huisne the French 
held the houses along the river-bank, and just as 
the Germans had reached the bridge it was blown 
up. The demolition, however, was not complete, 
and the foremost battalions got across over the 
debris to get at the enemy. Two made their way 
down the high street, one turned to the left, to the 
railway station, whence came the sound of signals 
for departing trains. There was nothing to hinder 
the iron railway-bridge from being blown up, 
and by this means many prisoners were taken, 
besides 150 provision waggons and 1000 hundred- 
weight of flour. 

Battle of Le-Mans. 133 

The artillery were next directed to fire on the 
town of Le-Mans. 

Meanwhile the detachments which had become 
mixed up in the fight in the wood had reformed, 
and joined the Ilird Corps. After a ration of 
meat, the first for three days, had been served 
out to all the troops, the 10th Brigade re- 
sumed its march. The battalion of Brandenburg 
Jagers crossed the river by the paper-mill of 
L'Epau, and two batteries at Ch&teau-Funay con- 
tributed to the firing on Le Mans. 

When, soon after, the infantry entered the 
town, a fierce struggle began in the streets, 
blocked as they were by the baggage-trains of 
the French. Access to the houses had to be 
cleared by artillery ; a large number of French 
were taken prisoners, and a vast quantity of sup- 
plies seized. The fighting went on till night- 
fall, and then the Xth Corps and haK of the 
Ilird took up alarm quarters in the town. The 6th 
Division took possession of Yvr^, which the enemy 
had abandoned, and placed outposts at Les-Noyers 
and Les- Arches on the further side of the Huisne. 

The actions fought by the French on this day, 
had been arranged for the sole purpose of giving 
the army time to set out. 

On learning from Admiral Jaur^guiberry that 
every effort to get the troops to advance had 

134 T"E Franco-German War. 

failed, and that the last reserves were shattered, 
General Chanzy had, at eight that morning, issued 
orders for a general retreat on Alen9on. Here 
the Minister of War had arranged for the simul- 
taneous arrival of two Divisions of the XlXth 
Corps from Carentan. 

The march of the Ilnd Army on Le-Mans had 
been a series of seven days' incessant fighting. It 
had fallen at a season when the winter was most 
severe. Smooth ice and snow-drifts had hampered 
every movement. Bivouacking was out of the 
question; the troops had to seek their night 
quarters often at a distance of some miles in their 
rear ; their reassembling in the morning wasted 
precious hours, and then the shortness of the day 
prevented their taking full advantage of their 
successes. Whole battalions were employed merely 
in guarding the prisoners. The roads were in 
such a state that baggage could not be brought 
up ; officers and men alike marched in insufficient 
clothing and on reduced rations. But spirit, 
endurance and discipline had conquered every 

The Germans had sacrificed in this prolonged 
struggle 3200 men and 200 officers, the larger half 
belonging to the Ilird Corps alone. Several com- 
panies fought under the command of non-commis- 
sioned officers. 

The French Line of Retreat. 135 

The French estimated their losses at 6200 men, 
and 20,000 taken prisoners ; seventeen gims, two 
colours, and an abundant supply of materiel re- 
mained as trophies in the hands of the victors. 

After such severe eiForts the troops imperatively- 
needed some rest. The orders from head-quarters 
were that the operations were not to be extended 
beyond a certain area of country ; and the Ilnd 
Army might almost immediately be required 
on the Seine and the Loire. Prince Frederick 
Charles therefore determined to follow up the re- 
treating enemy with only a small force. 

On the French side, if each Corps was to have 
an independent road for escape to Alen9on, two 
Corps must necessarily start to the westward. And 
on the evening of the last day's fight the X Vlth 
Corps had reached Chauffour on the Laval road, 
and the XVIIth was at Mayenne on the way to 
Conlie, each protected by its rear-guard. The 
XXIst was assembled at Ballon, to the east of the 
Sarthe. From these points all were to march 
northwards. General Chanzy still deluded himself 
with the hope of getting on by Evreux to the assist- 
ance of the besieged capital. He would have, indeed, 
to make a wide circuit — a bow to which the Ger- 
mans could easily have formed the string in a 
much shorter time ; and in the condition in which 
his troops now were, across a country where all 

136 The Franco-German War. 

arms could be brought into action, they must have 
been annihilated. In short, the conquered army 
was already driven to the west of the Sarthe. 

After distributing rations to men and horses, 
General von Schmidt set forth at midday on the 
13th with four battalions, eleven squadrons, and 
ten guns, and reached ChauiFour after some 
skirmishing. The Xlllth Corps (German) ad- 
vanced to the Sarthe, the 17th Division sending 
their outposts across the river at NeuviUe, and the 
22nd driving the French out of Ballon, whence 
they retired completely routed to Beaumont. The 
XXIst Corps (French) had taken up quarters this 
day at Sill^. The National Guards from Brittany 
fled wildly to Coron, and thence back into their own 
province. They were joined by the troops left in 
camp at Conlie, after they had plundered the 
camp. The XVIIth Corps also went oiF, without 
halting by the V^gre, as they had been ordered to 
do, but marching straight on to Ste.-Suzanne. The 
XVIth withdrew on Laval, leaving Barry's Division 
at Chassill^ to protect their rear. Numbers of 
abandoned baggage-waggons, and cast-away arms, 
testified to the condition of the defeated army. 

On the 14th the French were driven out of 
Chassill^. The XVIth Corps was by this time in 
dire confusion ; it retired during the night to 
St.-Jean-sur-Erve. In the camp at Conlie 8000 

Pursuit Northwards, 137 

rifles had been abandoned with 5,000,000 cart- 
ridges, and various other warlike stores. 

The Grand Duke had marched on Alen<;on 
along the right bank of the Sarthe. The French 
advanced guard of the 22nd Division made a 
sKght stand at Beaumont and lost 1400 pri- 
soners. ' 

On the following day General von Schmidt made 
further progress on the road to Laval, but he found 
that the French had concentrated at St.-Jean and 
had posted a strong force of artillery on the heights 
beyond the Erve. The Oldenburg Regiment forced 
its way as far as the church of the little town, 
and the Brunswickers drove the enemy back on 
Ste.-Suzanne, higher up the river, but there the 
pursuit ended. / 

Although Barry's and Deplanque's Divisions 
had now no more than 6000 fighting men, by the 
French estimate, and Curten's Division had not 
yet come up, the German force at hand was very 
considerably inferior. The rest of the Xth Corps 
was moving up to their support, but had as yet 
only reached Chasilld. A battalion proceeding 
jfrom Conlie came into conflict at SiU^ with the 
XXIst Corps (French) assembled there, and sus- 
tained heavy loss. The 22nd Division of the 
Xnith Corps also met with serious opposition 
before reaching Alen^on, from the National Guards 

138 The Franco-German War. 

and Volunteers under Lipowski ; so the attack on 
the town was postponed till next day. 

But on the following morning the French posi- 
tion in Alen9on was evacuated, as well as Sill<5 and 
St.-Jean. The places were at once occupied by 
the Germans, and General von Schmidt marched 
on, close to Laval. Numerous stragglers from the 
retreating army were taken prisoners. 

Curten's Division had now reached the western 
bank of the Mayenne, and there the renmants of 
the Army of the Loire re-assembled. Reduced to 
half its original strength, and very greatly demoral- 
ized, it would be hors de combat for some time to 
come, and the object of the German march on Le- 
Mans was fully attained. 

To the north of Paris, however, the French were 
again preparing to attack. It was needful to with- 
draw those Divisions of the 1st which were still on 
the Lower Seine, in the direction of the Somme ; 
and orders came from head-quarters that the XEIth 
Corps of the ILid Army should march on Rouen. 
On the Upper Loire two French detachments had 
been sent to attack the Hessians holding positions 
about Briare, and had driven them back, on the 
14th, to Ouzouer ; while from Sologne came a 
report of the advance of a newly-constituted French 
Army Corps — the XXVth. 

The German IXth Corps, after evacuating and 

Operations on the Somme. 139 

razing the camp at Conlie, was therefore sent to 
reinforce Orleans. The remainder of the Ilnd 
Army, the Ilird and Xth Corps with the three 
cavalry divisions — about 27,000 foot, 9000 horse, 
and. 186 guns — were assembled under Prince 
Frederick Charles round Le-Mans. The cavalry, 
placed as a corps of observation in the front and 
on the flanks, had several small skirmishes, but no 
further serious hostilities were attempted. 

The 4th Cavalry Division held Alen9on on the 
right, and on the left General von Hartmann 
entered Tours without any opposition. 

Operations on the North of Paris during 

At the beginning of the New Year a consider- 
able part of the 1st Army (German) was engaged 
in investing P^ronne, which would have aiForded a 
safe passage for the debouching of the French over 
to the southern bank of the Somme. General 
Bamekow had laid siege to the little town with the 
3rd Reserve Division and the 31st Brigade of 
Infantry. Hitherto it had only been kept under 
observation by cavalry, but recent circumstances 
had raised it to importance. So much of the Vlllth 
Corps as was available on the Somme formed, for 

I40 The Franco-German War. 

the protection of the besiegers on the north, a wide 
curve from Amiens as far as Bapaume. 

The 1st Corps, posted at Rouen, at first consisted 
only of three brigades ; but the IVth was on the 
march from Pdronne, where it had now been 
relieved. No reinforcement of the 1st Army had 
been effected ; the 14th Division, after reducing 
M^ziferes and taking Rocroy, had received fresh 
orders from Versailles which transferred it to 
another field of action. 

General Faidherbe had concentrated his troops 
from the rest-camp south of Arras, behind the 
Scarpe, and had begun his forward march on 
January 2nd. He advanced with the XXIInd Corps 
to the relief of P(5ronne through Bucquoy. The 
XXIIIrd followed by the high road to Bapaume. 
As early as half-past ten the Derroja Division of the 
former Corps obliged the 3rd Cavalry Division, as 
well as those battalions of the 32nd Brigade which 
had been attached to it, to retire on Miraumont, 
pursuing it, however, only as far as Achiet-le-Petit. 

The other Division, under General Bessol, had 
only advanced towards Achiet-le-Grand in the 
afternoon. There he was opposed for several hours 
to two companies of the 68th, a detachment 
of Hussars, and two guns, who retired towards 
evening on Avesnes. The French did not pursue, 
but established outposts at Bihucourt. 

Operations on the Somme. 141 

Payen's Division had deployed at Behagnies, 
on the high road, and its batteries opened 
fire on Sapignies, where, however, General von 
Strubberg had posted five battalions. These met 
the attack, and at two o'clock entered Behagnies 
with a rush, took 240 prisoners, and prepared the 
village for defence. The enemy withdrew to Er- 
villers, and there once again showed front, but 
attempted no further attack. 

The other Division of his XXIIIrd Army Corps, 
consisting of mobilized National Guards, under 
General Robin, had pressed forward on the left 
on Mory. There was only one battalion and a 
squadron of Hussars to oppose them. By extend- 
ing their line on the heights of Beugn&tre, they 
succeeded in deceiving the enemy as to their 
numerical strength. The latter marched and 
counter-marched, and also brought up artillery, 
but did not attempt an attack, and remained at 

The 30th Brigade and the 3rd Cavalry Division 
took up their position for the night in and about 
Bapaume. The 29th Brigade occupied the 
neighbouring villages Jon the right and the left of 
the Arras road. 

142 The Franco-German War. 

Battle of Bapaume. 
(January 3rd.) 

General Faidherbe had brought his forces close 
up to a position covered by the siege of P^ronne. 
His four Divisions consisted of fifty-seven batta- 
lions, opposed by only seventeen German battalions. 
He decided on the 3rd to pash on in four columns 
to Gr^villers, Biefvillers, on the high road, and to 
Favreuil on the east. 

But General von Goeben was not inclined to 
give up his position at Bapaume. During the 
occupation of Favreuil, General von Kummer 
brought up the 30th Brigade in front of the 
town, and behind it the 29th, of which, how- 
ever, three battalions were left in the villages to 
left and to the right. A reserve was established 
further to the rear, at Transloy, whither the 8th 
Rifle battalion, with two batteries, was detached ; 
and General von Bamekow received orders to hold 
three battalions and the 26th Division of Foot 
in readiness at Sailly-SaiUisel, without raising the 
blockade. Then the Division under Prince Albrecht, 
jun. — three battalions, eight squadrons, and three 
batteries — advanced on Bertincourt, near to the 
battle-field. In this order, in severe cold and 
gloomy weather, they were to await the attack of 
the French. 

Battle of Bapaume. 143 

General Count von der Groeben had already sent 
the 7th Cavaliy Brigade against the enemy's right 
flank, but it did not succeed in forcing its way 
through those villages that were occupied by the 
enemy's infantry. 

At Beugn&tre, the right wing of the Robin 
Division was met by so sharp a fire from two 
battalions of the 65th, and two horse artillery 
batteries that had joined them from Transloy, that 
it withdrew again on Mory, and the garrison of 
Favreuil was reinforced by two battalions and two 
batteries against the approach of the Payen Division, 
which was marching down the high road to the 
east of that place. The first French gun that came 
out of Sapignies was immediately destroyed, but 
several batteries soon became engaged on both 
sides, and the French entered Favreuil and St. 

The 40th Regiment advanced to these places at 
noon from Bertincourt, and, after a lively action, 
occupied them ; yet had to evacuate Favreuil again, 
and a battery of horse artillery took up a position 
alongside of the 2nd Regiment of Uhlans of the 
Guard close to Fr^micourt, which secured the right 
of the Division. 

On the left, Bessol's Division had driven the 
weak garrison out of Biefvillers. The 1st Battalion 
of the 33rd Regiment, which had set out to retake 

144 The Franco-German War. 

that place, became hotly engaged ; it lost all but 
three of its officers, and had to retire upon Avesnes. 
The Derroja Division had also taken part in this 
fight. The French now brought a strong force of 
artillery to the front, and extended their firing-line 
to the south nearly as far as the road to Albert. 

Therefore, at mid-day. General von Kummer 
decided to confine himself to the local defence of 
Bapaume. With some sacrifice, the artillery covered 
the move of the infantry thither. The 1st heavy 
battery, which was the last to withdraw, lost 2 
officers, 97 men, and 36 horses : their guns could 
only be got away with the help of the infantry. 

The 29th Brigade now prepared for an obstinate 
defence of the old city wall. The 30th was posted 
behind the place, and the French advanced leisurely 
as far as the suburb. Then there was a cessation 
of hostilities. General Faidherbe hoped to take the 
town by further investing it, ^vithout exposing it 
to the horrors of a bombardment such as precedes 
the taking of a place by storm. A brigade 
of the Derroja Division endeavoured to advance 
through Tilloy, but met there with stubborn re- 
sistance from the Rifle battalion and two batteries 
which had arrived from P^ronne. At the same 
time twenty-four guns of the batteries that were 
posted behind Bapaume opened fire on the advanc- 
ing columns, which then withdrew, at half-past 

Battle of Bapaume. 145 

three, -by the road to Albert. They soon resumed 
the attack, and succeeded in entering Tilloy. All 
the neighbouring batteries now opened fire upon 
this place. General von Minis, who, when the 3rd 
Cavalry Division had passed through Miraumont, 
had been left behind there, seeing no enemy in 
his front, but hearing the fighting at Bapaume, 
advanced from the west, and General von Strub- 
berg from the to^vn, to resume the attack. The 
French did not await their arrival, and were driven 
both out of the suburb and Avesnes. The French 
detachments encamped for the night at Grevillers, 
Bihucourt, Favreuil, and Beugnatre, thus sur- 
rounding Bapaume on three sides. The day had 
cost the Germans 52 officers and 698 men, and the 
French 53 officers and 2066 men. 

But only by dra^Wng on every available resource 
of the Vlllth Army Corps had it been possible to 
withstand the preponderating attack of the enemy. 
It had not yet been possible to provide fresh 
ammunition, and General von Goeben decided to 
immediately shift the battle-field to behind the 
Somme. This movement was being executed when 
the patrols brought information that the enemy 
was also evacuating its neighbouring position. 

The French troops, as yet unaccustomed to 
active service, had suiFered extremely from the 
day's fighting and the severe cold of the ensuing 


146 The Franco-German War. 

night. General Faidherbe could perceive that 
the forces before P(5ronne had been withdrawn to 
Bapaume, and that the Germans thus reinforced 
would assume the defensive. His first object, the 
raising of the siege, had been obtained, and the 
General thought it best not to endanger his success 
by a second encounter. He led his Corps back in 
the direction of Arms. 

Of the German cavalry the 8th Cuirassiers 
succeeded in breaking through a French square. 
The 15th Division withdrew behind the Somme 
to close under P^ronne, and the Saxon cavalry 
joined the right wing at St.-Quentin. 

Actions on the Lower Seine. 

Exactly at the same time the other Corps of 
the 1st Army was engaged with the enemy on 
the Lower Seine. The French had not taken up 
any new position on the right bank of the river, but 
they held the wooded heights of Bois-de-la-Londe, 
which surround the southern defile of the little 
river-peninsula of Grand-Couronne. Here Gene- 
ral von Bentheim, with a view of gaining ground 
in this direction, had posted half of the 1st Army 
Corps, and advanced on the 4th of January on Les- 
Moulineaux. Before daybreak Lieut.-Colonel von 
Hiillessem surprised the enemy's outposts, stormed 

Fighting on the Lower Seine. 147 

the fort of Chfiteau Robert-le-Diable, and took 
prisoners those who had sought refuge amid the 
ruins of the castle ; and the heights of Maison- 
Brulet were scaled under a heavy fire from the 
enemy, who lost two guns on this occasion. After 
renewed fighting at St.-Ouen the French withdrew 
on Bourgachard in the afternoon, pursued towards 
six in the evening by half a squadron of Dragoons, 
two guns, and a company driven on waggons, who 
took from them two 12-pounders set up on the 
approach to Rougemontier, disabling the gunnel's 
and capturing an ammunition waggon. 

After a slight skirmish, the enemy had been driven 
out of Bourgtheroulde and thrown back in the direc- 
tion of Brionne. However, the French right wing at 
Elbeuf had, during the night, hastily withdrawn 
from- a position rendered precarious by the waver- 
inor of the remaining detachments. The aiFair 
had cost 5 officers and 160 men. The loss of the 
French must have been equal, besides which they 
lost 300 prisoners and 4 guns. 

General Roye posted his troops behind the Rille 
on the Pont-Audemer — ^Brionne line, but the Ger- 
mans now held Bourgachard, Bourgtheroulde, and 
Elbeuf strongly garrisoned, with three battalions 
in readiness at Grand-Couronne for further secu- 
rity. The other troops returned to Rouen. An 
attempted passage of the French from the 

L 2 

148 The Franco-German War. 

northern bank of the Somme had already been 
averted at Fauville, whence they again withdrew to 

Meanwhile it had not escaped the observation 
of the Vlllth Army Corps that this time the 
French did not seek to intrench themselves in the 
northern forts, but that they halted south of Arras, 
thus betraying an intention to shortly renew the 
attack on the investing forces of P^ronne. 

General von Goeben therefore decided to pass 
over to the northern bank of the Somme, to their 
protection, and to take up a flank position whose 
front the enemy would have to cross in its advance. 

On January 6th, after the troops had had one 
day's rest, and the ammunition had been replenished, 
the 30th Brigade advanced on Bray, the 29th on 
Albert. In close vicinity to the enemy was the 36th 
Cavalry Division at Bapaume, behind them the 
Cavalry Brigade of the Guard. To secure the left 
flank Lieut.-Colonel von Pestel occupied Acheux, 
and the 3rd Reserve Division of the investing Corps 
advanced west of the position on Feuilleres. The 
Corps Artillery remained meanwhile on the left 
bank of the Somme, for it almost seemed as if the 
enemy were preparing an attack on Amiens. 

But during the next day the French did not 
undertake anything of importance, and on the 9th 
Peronne fell. 


Occupation of P^ronne. 

For fourteen days this little place had been 
invested by eleven battalions, sixteen squadrons, 
and ten batteries. Flooded meadows on one side, 
and on the other, walls with medieval towers had 
secured it against surprise ; yet it was commanded 
on all sides by overhanging heights. 

Still the fire of fifty-eight German guns had 
not done much damage, and in any case must 
soon have been given up for want of ammuni- 
tion ; the fire with captured French materiel re- 
mained without result. The fort continued its 
fire, and its garrison of only 3500 men even 
attempted sorties. As before mentioned, on the 
day of the battle of Bapaume, a portion of the 
besieging troops had been obliged to withdraw to 
the support of the Vlllth Army Corps, and in the 
uncertainty as to the result of this fight it had been 
necessary to taJvC precautions for the parking of 
the siege materiel. The troops that remained 
behind were in marching order, and part of the 
heavy guns had been withdrawn. But the garri- 
son of the place kept on its guard. 

Two days later a siege-train of fifty-five heavy 
guns arrived at La-F^re. A second, of twenty- 
eight, laden with French ammunition, was on the 
way from M^zi^res. The preliminaries of a regular 

150 The Franco-German War. 

siege were accomplished, and when at last, on the 
8th of January, a large ammunition-transport 
arrived, the commandant was summoned to give 
up a defence that had become hopeless. 

On the 10th of January, General von Bamekow 
entered the fortress so amply provided with arms, 
ammunition and provisions. The garrison were 
made prisoners. 

On the 7th of January, his Majesty the King had 
summoned General von ManteufFel to another part 
of the theatre of war, and had given the supreme 
command of the 1st Army Corps to General von 

Freed from all care as to Peronne, his only 
mission thenceforward was the protection of the 
siege of Paris. For this purpose the Somme, 
whose passages were all in the hands of the 
Germans, formed a natural bulwark, behind which 
even the attack of a superior enemy could be met. 
And some reinforcements now arrived for the 
Vlllth Army Corps. The peaceful condition of the 
Lower Seine permitted of two infantry regiments 
and two batteries being sent from thence to Amiens. 
At head-quarters an infantry brigade of the Meuse 
Army Corps was held in readiness, which in case 
of need was to precede them by rail. 

It was still a matter of uncertainty where the 
enemy would strike the first blow. General von 

The Invaders on the Somme. 151 

Goeben, therefore, spread his forces behind the 
Somme on a ten-mile line, still holding the places 
he had acquired to the front of the river, so that 
if needful he could proceed to attack. In the 
middle of the month, the portions of the IXth 
Army Corps under the command of General Count 
von der Groeben occupied Amiens, Corbie and 
the Hallue line in a flank position. The 15th 
Division, holding Bray, took up its quarters south 
of this place. Next to them, on the left of 
P(5ronne, were the 36th Reserves, to the right 
the 16th Division, and the 3rd Reserv^e Cavalrj^ 
Brigade, holding Roisel and Vermand, in front. 
The 12th Cavalry Division was at St.-Quentin. 

The French army had already begun to move 
on the Cambrai high-road, and its XXIInd 
Corps had forced back the 3rd Cavalry Division 
first out of Bapaume and Albert and then back on 
the HaUue. The XXIIIrd followed the same road, 
and their goal really appears to have been Amiens. 
But a reconnaissance had enlightened them as to 
the difficulty of attacking in that direction, besides 
which a telegram from the War Minister an- 
nounced that the Paris Army would make a last 
supreme effort to break the bonds of the blockade, 
and the Army of the Nord was enjoined to draw, 
as far as possible, the attention of the enemy's 
forces towards itself and away from the capital. 

152 The Franco-German War. 

According to these orders General Faidherbe 
decided to advance on St.-Quentin without delay, 
whither the Isnard Brigade was akeady marching 
from Cambrai. The attack on the right wing of 
the Germans, consisting for the time being solely 
of cavalry, endangered their communications, while 
the vicinity of the northern forts oflFered the French 
army shelter and also greater liberty of action. 

But General von Goeben had foreseen this 
Avithdrawal of the enemy on the left, and had con- 
centrated all his forces to meet it. 

The convalescents who were fit for service were 
attached. Only weak detachments were left at 
Amiens, and through the approach of the Xlllth 
Corps, from the Sarthe to the Lower Seine, it 
was easy to transfer the 3rd Grenadier Regiment 
and a heavy battery to the Somme. 

The withdrawal of the French from Albert and 
the march of their Army Corps on Combles and 
Sailly-Saillisel were soon reported by the recon- 
noitring of the cavalry. A newly-formed Pauly 
Brigade occupied Bapaume, and the Isnard Brigade 
entered St.-Quentin, when General zur Lippe, 
according to orders received, retired on Ham. 
At this jimcture. General von Goeben set out in 
an eastern direction, using the roads on both banks 
of the Somme so that he might the sooner come 
up with the enemy. 

Advance on St.-Quentin. 153 

January llih. — On the 17th, the 12th Cavahy 
Brigade advanced on La-F^re, the 16th on Ham. 
The 3rd Reserve Division and the Cavalry Brigade 
of the Guard arrived at Nesle ; the 15th Division 
and the Corps Artillery, at Villers-Carbonnel. An 
Army Reserve had been formed out of the troops 
last from Rouen, which followed to Harbonnieres. 
On the northern bank, the detachment under 
Count von der Groeben advanced close to P^ronne. 

The four French Divisions had so far advanced 
on Vermand that they were enabled to eflFect a 
junction next day at St.-Quentin. The XXIIIrd 
Army Corps was to retire straight upon the town, 
the XXIInd to cross the Somme lower down, and 
take up a position south of St.-Quentin. 

January 18<A. — On the German side, the 16th 
and the 3rd Reserve Division advanced on Jussy 
and Flavy, on the southern bank of the Somme, 
the Army Reserves on Ham. The 12th Cavalry 
Division at Vendeuil found the country east of the 
Oise still free from the enemy. 

On the other hand, the 15 th Division was to 
cross the Somme at Brie, and advance, together 
with the troops of General Coimt von der Groeben, 
on Vermand and Etreillers, with a view of obtain- 
ing touch of the approaching enemy. General 
von Kummer had been enjoined, in case he foimd 
that the French had taken up a position, merely 

154 The Franco-German War. 

to watch them and follow them should they retire 
north, but should they march towards the south, 
to attack them in force. 

At half-past ten, the 29th Brigade came up 
on this side of Tertry with the rear-guard of 
the XXIInd Corps and its train. The Hussai's 
broke through one of the screening battalions, 
drove the waggons in the greatest disorder back on 
Caulaincourt, but had to abandon prisoners and 
loot under the fire of the approaching infantry. 
The French brigade had changed front, and now 
advanced to the attack of Trescon. This was 
resisted by the 65th Regiment and three batteries 
until after two o'clock, when General du Bessol, 
who had just arrived on the scene of action, 
ordered the march on St.-Quentin to be resumed. 

The XXIIIrd had also halted and detached a 
brigade against the left flank of the 15th Division. 
This, however, on retujhing Cauvigny Farm, came 
upon the German battalions, which, after protracted 
firing, pursued the retreating enemy and entered 
Caulaincourt at half-past three, making 100 
prisoners and capturing fourteen provision- 

Meanwhile Count von der Groeben had hastened 
forward at the sound of firing. The General 
realized that he could help most efficaciously by 
marching straight on Vermand. Four battalions 

Advance on St.-Quentin. 155 

inarched on PcEuilly, which was occupied by the 
enemy, and when the 4th Grenadiei-s came up to 
the assault the French retreated, losing some 
prisoners. Many Gardes-Mobiles were dispersed by 
the Uhlans. But at Vermand the whole of the 
XXIIIrd Corps had begrm its march. 

Count von der Groeben therefore posted his 
troops behind the Poeuilly ground, thereby occa- 
sioning the retiring troops to immediately front 
whenever pressed. The 15th Division had taken 
up quarters at Beauvois and Caulaincourt. 

The sole aim which the French Generals ap- 
pear to have had in view on that day was to reach 
St.-Quentin. They neglected the opportunity of 
^alUfiig with their two Corps upon the single 
15th Division. The XXIIIrd Corps passed 
the night in and westward of St.-Quentin, and 
likewise the XXIInd, after crossing the Somme 
at S^rancourt, south of that town. A further 
advance either on Paris or on the German line 
of communications depended, now that the Ger- 
mans were so close upon them, on the issue of a 
battle; and this. General Faidherbe wished to 
await at St.-Quentin. 

It was important that he should make a stand 
there, in case the Paris Army succeeded in break- 
ing through the blockade. The ground offered 
certain advantages — the heights in front of the 

156 The Franco-German War. 

town facilitated firing and oflFered covered shelter 
to the reserves. Although the Somme divided the 
army in two halves, the Bridge of St.-Quentin 
secured to both mutual aid. The enemy also 
occupied two sides of the river, and including the 
now newly-joined Isnard and Pauly Brigades, they 
counted 40,000 men, against an enemy numerically 
weaker. The Germans, all counted, numbered 
32,580 combatants, nearly 6000 being cavalry. 

Battle of St.-Quentin. 
(19th January.) 

General von Goeben had ordered the general 
attack for the 19th. 

General von Barnekow advanced along the 
southern bank of the Somme (during the occupa- 
tion of Serancourt) with the 16th, and the 3rd 
Reserve Division from Jussy on Essigny; the 
12th Cavalry Division advanced on the road which 
led to La-Fere. 

The French columns were still marching to take 
up their position so as to have the town on their 
rear ; and they already occupied Grugies. While 
the 32nd Brigade marched north to Essigny — 
the Reserve Division halting behind the place — 
the 31st Brigade started at a quarter to ten for 

Battle of St,-Quentin. 157 

This attack was flanked by the French brigade 
under Gislain, which had meanwhile occupied the 
positions of Contescourt and Castres. Its front 
was met by the brigades imder FoersterandPitti^. 

The fire of the approaching German batteries 
was at once returned vigorously from Le-Moulin- 
de-Tout-Vent. At eleven o'clock the second bat- 
talion of the 69th Regiment formed into company 
columns, to cross the entirely open ground towards 
the heights between them and Grugies ; but the 
attempt, which was renewed four times, was 
frustrated by the annihilating cross-fire of the 
enemy. The isolated battalion was nearly ex- 
hausted, and only on being joined by six fresh 
companies of the 29th Regiment did it succeed in 
forcing the French back, after a desperate hand-to- 
hand fight; but the latter made a stand before 
Grugies and its sugar-factory. 

On the right wing, the 12th Cavalry Division 
had preceded the others on the La-Fere road. 
The French brigade under Aynes, which had 
hitherto been held in reserve, pushed forward at 
the double to meet it, and as Count zur Lippe 
could dispose of but one battalion of infantry, the 
movement was arrested at Comet-d'Or. But 
when, at noon, they were joined by reinforce- 
ments from Tergnier, the Saxon Rifles stormed the 
park on the high-road, and the Schleswig-Holstein 

158 The Franxo-German War. 

Fusiliers stormed La-Neuville. The French, after 
losing many prisoners, were vigorously pursued 
back to the outskirts of St.-Quentin, the first place 
which afforded them shelter. 

Meantime, the Slst Brigade was engaged in a 
hot fire on both sides of the railway-line before 
Grugies; behind its right wing was posted the 
32nd, in the valley near the high-road, where it 
suffered severely from the enemy's shrapnel. On 
the left, the advancing detachment had not suc- 
ceeded in entering Contescourt ; and now the 
French at Grugies made so determined and over- 
whelming an attack, that the 16th Division had to 
be withdrawn as far as Essigny. 

When, after twelve o'clock, General Faidherbe 
joined the XXIIIrd Corps, he had every reason 
to hope that the XXIInd Corps would be able 
to maintain its position. But certainly the 
most important result was to be looked for on 
the northern portion of the battle-field. 

Here Robin's Division had taken up a posi- 
tion between Fayet and Francilly. The brigade 
under Isnard had joined it on the left, the brigade 
under Lagrange of Payen's Division extended 
its line as far as the Somme. At Gricourt the 
Michelet Brigade remained behind in reserve, and 
the brigade under Pauly secured the commimica- 
tions in rear. 

Battle of St.-Quentin, 159 

As early as eight o'clock General Count von der 
Groeben (on the Gennan left) set out on the Roman 
road from Poeuilly with eight battalions and 
twenty-eight guns; on the left the cavalry 
brigade accompanied the march. 

The East-Prussians immediately drove the 
French out of Holnon and Sdlency, and then 
advanced against Fayet and up the heights of 
Moulin-Coutte. A gun that was being served, 
ammunition-waggons, and many prisoners were 
then taken from the enemy. 

By degrees the twenty-eight guns all reached the 
mill on the height and opened a duel with the 
artillery of Robin's Division. But after half an 
hour the ammunition failed, for the waggons 
which had been sent on the previous day to the 
Vlllth Corps had not yet come up to the relief. 
The batteries, which were, moreover, suffering 
from the fire of the infantry, had to retire on 
Holnon, and as Francilly was still occupied by the 
enemy in flank and rear, a further advance was 
temporarily postponed. 

On the right. General von Kummer with the 
15th Division had already begun the march from 
Beauvois, and had reached Etreillers at ten. The 
King's Hussars, after driving back the enemy's 
horse, drew up near to L'Epine-de-Dallon, and the 
29th Brigade entered Savy. North of that place 

i6o The Franco-German War. 

three batteries opened fire against the artillery of 
Payen's Division, and then the 65th Regiment 
advanced to the attack of the surrounding woods. 
The smaller one to the south was taken, but here, 
as at Francilly, the Isnard Brigade established itself 
in the larger one to the north. 

At noon the brigade under Lagrange advanced 
on the small wood and soon entered it, but was 
again driven back by the 65th. 

The 33rd Regiment was posted in readiness to 
secure the threatened right flank of the 29th 
Brigade, and with those already under fire was 
joined by two heavy batteries which had just 
come with the Corps Artillery from Savy. At 
the same time the 30th Brigade advanced from 
Roupy on the right of the 29th. 

Meanwhile, Colonel von Massow had, at one 
o'clock, again assumed the offensive against! the 
much more advanced enemy's left. Six companies 
of the 44th Regiment advanced on Fayet, and open- 
ing fire at the shortest range, drove the French 
from the field. They were followed by twoj bat- 
teries, which resumed action against the great 
artillery position at Moulin-de-C^py. 

General Paulze D'lvoy, who saw his communi- 
cations with Cambrai in such imminent danger, 
had already summoned the brigade under Michelet 
from its reserve post, west of the town, and^ thus 

Battle of St.-Quentin. i6i 

reinforced now advanced on Fayet. Those 
Prussian detachments that were in the place had 
to be withdrawn to Moulin-Coutte ; but the further 
advance of the enemy towards this height was met 
by a flank attack on Selency, and at the same time 
the farm of Bois-des-Roses was carried. The 
French again withdrew on Fayet. 

There, at Francilly, and in the northern stretch 
of wood, they held their own until half-past one, 
while at that time, on the German side, the three 
brigades had been brought up into the fighting- 
line. The Army Reserve had, indeed, advanced 
from Ham on Roupy, but General von Goeben, 
who had from that spot observed the slow pro- 
gress of the 16th Division, had already sent this 
Reserve through Sdrancourt to its relief at eleven 

Colonel von Boecking, Avith his three battalions, 
three squadrons, and two batteries, advanced from 
there against Contescourt. Hastening forward 
with the cavalry, he brought his artillery into 
action ; the 41st Regiment, upon its arrival, im- 
mediately moved forward to the attack. In 
communication with the battalion of the 19th 
Regiment which was already on the spot, the 
French were at one o'clock driven out of that 
place and out of Castres, with the loss of many 
prisoners, towards the heights of Grugies. Against 

VOL. n. M 

1 62 The Franco-German War. 

these heights the fire of the artillery was now 
directed, having gradually been increased to thirty 

So as to yet further dispute the position^ 
General Lecomte reinforced Gislain's Brigade by 
several battalions withdrawn from the brigades of 
Pittie and Ajmes. 

The East-Prussian Regiment succeeded, never- 
theless, by half-past two o'clock, although itself 
attacked on all sides, in hurling back the enemy 
into the hollow in front of Grugies. 

Colonel von Boecking's vigorous attack was con- 
spicuous along the whole line. 

With a view to again undertaking a general 
advance. General von Bamekow now ordered up 
his last reserves from Essigny, when towards three 
o'clock Pitti^'s Brigade unexpectedly pressed for- 
ward along the line of railway. With his right 
under the fire of the artillery posted at Castres, he 
allowed his left to be surprised by the charge of 
five squadrons of the reserve cavalry at XJrvilliers, 
Simultaneously Colonel von Hartzberg now ad- 
vanced with the 32nd Brigade, and drove the 
enemy back to Moulin-de-Tout-Vent. 

But Foerster's Brigade,''south of Grugies, had 
held out stubbornly, although now seriously 
threatened on the left from GiflFecourt, as well as 
by the 12th Cavalry Division. With the retreat 

Battle of St.-Quentin. 163 

of Pitti^'s Brigade now completely exposing 
their left flank, and their last troops exhausted by 
a long struggle, the French found themselves 
finally forced to vacate their hard-contested posi- 

The 31st Brigade advanced along the railway- 
line as far as the sugar-factory, and Colonel 
von Boecking drove the last French detachments 
out of Grugies. He then opened his attack upon 
Moulin-de-Tout-Vent with his artilleiy. Up 
these heights the 41st Battalion, ordered up from 
Essigny, and the 32nd Brigade advanced in a com- 
bined attack. The French did not hold out 
much longer, and were soon in retreat. The entire 
German front, with the 12th Cavahy Division on 
its right, moved forward on to the town, which 
now also suffered from the fire of the artillery 
posted at Gauchy. The cavalry repeatedly broke 
through the retreating portions of the enemy's 
force; and the railway-station and suburb, in 
which was found the rear-guard only of the XXth 
French Corps, fell after a short struggle. 

Whilst on the southern portion of the field of 
battle the action took this turn, the attack on 
the northern side had also been renewed. 

Already by two o'clock the 28th Regiment from 
Roupy had carried the farm-house of I'Epine-de- 
Dallon, on the Ham road ; and almost simulta- 

M 2 

1 64 The Franco-German War. 

neously Count von der Groeben's infantry came 
up to resume the offensive. 

Whilst on the right some companies of the 4th 
and 44th Regiments opposed the debouching of 
the French out of the extensive woods, Major von 
Elpons, with six companies of the Crown Prince 
Grenadiers, advanced from Hobion and Selency 
upon Francilly, and, notwithstanding the hot fire 
of the defenders, forced an entrance into this most 
straggling village, in which many prisoners were 
made. As, however, the East-Prussian Regiment 
advanced yet further south of the Roman road, it 
had in its turn to sustain a formidable attack. 

To cover their threatened line of retreat, 
Michelet's Brigade from Foyet once more advanced, 
and Pauly's Brigade also marched upon Moulin- 
Coutte. This position, which ha4 in the mean- 
time been strengthened by artillery, was, however, 
obstinately contested by the 44th Regiment, and 
when the Grenadier companies poured in from the 
left of the Roman road, the enemy's attack was 
here again repulsed. 

Meanwhile the 29th Brigade, followed by the 
30th, had begun to move on St.-Quentin, having 
the 33rd Regiment on its right and the 65th 
Regiment on the left. The latter regiment now 
took complete possession of the more extensive 
of the woods, and forty-eight guns were driven 

Battle of St.-Quentin. 165 

up on both sides of the road from Savy. The 
farther advance of the infantry was effected in 
company column and in extended order, for the 
troops were suffering severely from the heavy 
grenade fire brought to bear upon them by 
the French. However, the Lagrange and Isnard 
Brigades did not await the assault, but at four 
o'clock retired on St.-Quentin with the loss of 
one gun. 

The French artillery once more came into 
action at Rocourt, but at five o'clock had quickly 
to abandon the position, and the French now 
confined themselves to the defence of the barri- 
caded entrances into the suburbs of St.-Martin. 

Six Prussian batteries were brought up against 
these, and the 29th Brigade was for some time 
engaged under a hot fire of the strongly-manned 
buildings and gardens ; whereupon several com- 
panies from Rocourt established themselves in the 
suburb, in which street-fighting was still continued, 
even when Lieutenant-Colonel von Hiillessem had 
succeeded in crossing the bridge over the canal, 
and entered the town itself. 

By four o'clock. General Faidherbe had already 
concluded that the XXIIIrd Corps would in all 
probability be unable to hold its position. 
Under these circumstances his choice was limited 
between a night retreat, or throwing himself 

1 66 The Franco-German War. 

into St.-Quentin. He had not yet come to any 
decision, when he met in the town General 
Lecointe, who reported that he had abandoned the 
defence of the left bank of the Somme. Thanks 
to the resistance still offered by the XXIIIrd 
Corps on the north, the XXIInd was enabled to 
retire unmolested on Le-Cateau. 

The officer in supreme command now ordered 
General Paulze d'lvoy to retire on that place, but 
the latter only received the order at six in the 
evening, when the brigades on the right mng — 
Pauly's and Michelet's — ^had already been routed in 
the direction of Cambrai. The more obstinately the 
two remaining brigades now defended the suburb 
of St.-Martin, the more critical for them must 
prove the result of the action. Attacked in rear 
by the battalion under Colonel von Boecking, the 
greater portion were made prisoners. The 41st 
Regiment alone took 64 officers and 2260 men 
prisoners, besides capturing 4 guns. General 
Faidherbe only escaped a similar fate through 
the instrumentality of the inhabitants. 

The action only ceased at half-past six that even- 
ing, and the troops passed the night in the town 
and in the captured villages. 
. The hard-won victory had cost the Germans 
96 officers and 2304 men ; 3000 wounded French- 
men were fotmd on the scene of action, and 

Battle of St.-Quentin. 167 

the number of unwounded prisoners exceeded 

According to theory, pursuit should invariably 
follow on a victory — a law recognized by all, and 
particularly acquiesced in by novices ; and yet, in 
practice it is seldom observed. Military history 
points to few examples, such as the well-known 
one of La-Belle-Alliance. It requires a very 
strong and pitiless will to impose fresh exertions 
and dangers upon a body of troops who have 
marched, fought and fasted for ten or twelve hours, 
instead of the longed-for rest and food. But 
given the existence of this supposed will, pursuit 
will yet depend on the circumstances under which 
the victory has been obtained. It will be difficult 
of execution when all the units on the field of battle, 
as at Koniggratz, have become so intermixed that it 
requires hours to again re-form them into tactical 
bodies ; or when, as at St.-Quentin, all, even the troops 
last committed to action, have become so entangled 
that not one single tactically complete infantry 
force is available. Without the support of such a 
body, cavalry at night will be delayed by ever\' 
obstacle and every small post of the enemy, and 
by itself can seldom fulfil the task. 

General von Goeben did not pursue the enemy 
till the following day. His advanced cavalry fought 
up to the suburbs of Cambrai and the glacis of 

1 68 The Franco-German War. 

Landrecies, without meeting with any resistance, 
and they brought in merely some hundred 
stragglers. The Infantry Divisions pursued within 
one mile (three English) of Cambrai. Against 
this fortress nothing could be undertaken through 
want of siege materiel, and there was no mUitary 
advantage to be derived in extending further 
north. Among the news to hand, it transpired that 
a considerable portion of the French Northern 
Army had retired upon Lille, Douai and Valen- 
ciennes. As fresh enterprises were consequently 
not to be expected, General von Goeben brought 
his force back to the Somme, where towards the 
end of the month they entered upon their winter 
quarters, between Amiens and St.-Quentin. 

On the Lower Seine, the Grand Duke of Meck- 
lenburg had entered Rouen with the Xlllth 
Corps on the 25th, after having encountered on 
the march only a few Franctireurs. Although 
General Loysel had increased his force to nearly 
30,000 through the reinforcements from Cherbourg, 
he had remained entirely inactive. 

General von Goeben had in view the transfer to 
the Army of the Somme of that portion of the 1st 
Corps still before Rouen ; but this was disapproved 
of by telegram from head-quarters, who, on political 
groimds, ordered its further retention there. 


Operations at the South-Eastern Seat of 
War up to 17th of January. 

Investment of Belfort. — ^At the south-eastern 
seat of war, the forces detailed to operate against 
Belfort had only been gradually brought together 
under cover of the XlVth Anny Corps. 

The town is surrounded by a bastioned enceinte. 
The citadel, standing upon high rocks, has the 
advantage of a great command, and for more effec- 
tive fire its surrounding works are terraced. On 
the left bank of the Savoureuse, newly erected 
lines of works protected the suburb and rail- 
way station. On the adjacent heights to the 
north-east, the forts of La-Miotte and La-Justice, 
connected to the main work by continuous lines, 
enclosed a spacious intrenched camp. The 
two forts of Les-Perches might certainly have 
threatened the safety of the site, approaching the 
citadel as they do on the south, to within only 
1000 metres, from whence the works on the left 
bank of the river come under the direct fire of its 
guns. But here two waUed forts had been erected 
before the advent of the enemy, and besides these 
the adjoining woods and positions, as for instance 
Perouse and Danjoutin, had been intrenched ; nor 
was the fortress deficient in bomb-proof places. It 
was armed with 341 heavy guns, and provisioned 

170 The Franxo-German War. 

for five months. As immediately after the open- 
ing of the campaign the Vllth French Corps had 
vacated Alsace, only about 5000 Gardes-Mobiles 
remained behind in Belfort, whose garrison, how- 
ever, increased by the National Guard, now ex- 
ceeded 17,000. 

The far-seeing Commandant, Colonel Denfert, 
exerted all his resources mainly in the occupation 
in force of the zone in his immediate front. The 
advanced detachments were every day assigned fresh 
operations, which the artillery of the fortress had 
to support at extreme ranges. 

Opposed to him, General von Tresckow could, in 
the first place, only dispose of twenty weak 
Landwehr battalions, five squadrons and six field- 
batteries, making an aggregate of barely 15,000. 
At first, he had to confine himself to a mere invest- 
ment. The troops intrenched themselves in the 
distantly radiating villages, and were called upon 
to repel many sorties. 

Orders had been received from army head- 
quarters to undertake the regular investment of 
the fortress. To General von Mertens was en- 
trusted the direction of the engineer duties, and to 
Lieut.-Col. Scheliha, the command of the artillery. 

The difficulties of the undertaking were apparent. 
The rocky nature of the soil could not but in- 
crease the laboui' of throAving up earthworks, and 

Siege of Belfort. 171 

the cold season was approaching. The assault 
could only be delivered successfully on the south 
of the main work — ^the formidable citadel. At 
this period only fifty heavy gims were available, 
and the infantry was not even strong enough to 
efficiently invest the place on all sides. 

Under these circumstances, it was left to the 
discretion of General von Tresckow to attempt 
the possibility of reducing Belfort by mere 
bombardment. Towards this purpose the attack 
was chiefly directed on the western side, in which 
quarter, after the enemy's garrison had been driven 
out of Valdoye, the infantry occupied Essert 
and BaviUiers, as well as the adjacent wooded 

On December 2nd, seven batteries were con- 
structed on the plateau between these two 
villages, by 3000 men, under cover of two bat- 
talions. The hard-frozen ground added to the 
difficulties of the task ; yet, notwithstanding the 
moonlight night, these operations would appear to 
have escaped the attention of the besieged. When 
on the following morning the sun had dispersed 
the fog and lit up the fortress, fire was opened 
upon it. 

The fortress replied at first but feebly, but after- 
wards with increasing vigour, from the entire 
line of works, up to within 4000 metres of the 

172 The Franxo-German War. 

forts of La-Miotte and La-Justice, and the losses 
in the trenches were considerable. 

Nevertheless, four fresh batteries were con- 
structed in advance of BaviUiers, and on the fall 
of La-Tuilerie the infantry pressed on until 
within 150 metres of the enemy's most advanced 

They succeeded also in causing a conflagration 
within the town ; but the ammunition was soon 
exhausted, whilst from the high citadel an effective 
fire was \mceasingly kept up, and there were con- 
stantly renewed sorties on the part of the garrison 
to be repelled. It was now clear, after all previous 
attempts had failed, that no assault could prove 
successful unless systematically carried out. 

Colonel von Ostrowski, to the south, had, on 
December 13th, carried the French positions of 
Adelnans and the wooded heights of Le-Bosmont 
and La-Brosse. To the east of the latter place 
two batteries, and on the northern skirt four 
additional batteries had been thrown up, not 
without great difficulty arising from thaw having 
bogged the soil. On January 7th fifty guns opened 

The superiority of the artillery of the attack 
was soon manifest. Fort Bellevue suffered 
severely, and the fire from Basses-Perches was 
entirely silenced. But more important than all, 

Siege of Belfort. 173 

the village of Danjoutin, strongly garrisoned and 
intrenched by the enemy, opposed all further 
advance. During the night of the 8th January, 
seven companies attacked this position on the 
northern side, at the same time occupying the 
railway-embankment. With empty rifles, the 
Landwehr posted themselves against the hot fire 
of the French, and broke into the streets up to the 
church itself. The supports hastening from the 
fort were driven back at the railway-embankment, 
but the fight went on around the buildings in the 
southern quarter of the village till towards noon. 
Of the defenders, twenty officers and 700 men were 
taken prisoners. 

Typhus and small-pox had broken out in Bel- 
fort ; but with the besieging force also the num- 
ber of the sick reached a considerable figure, 
caused by arduous work undertaken in in- 
clement weather. 

As a rule, the battalions could only muster 600 
strong, and this led General von Tresckow to devote 
half the nimiber to securing the investment from 
without, principally on the south. 

Trustworthy intelligence estimated the French 
strength at Be8an9on at 62,000. Although 
hitherto entirely inactive, they now evinced a 
strong desire to press on to the relief of the hard- 
pressed fortress, by the line of the Doubs. 

174 The Franco-German War. 

The fortified castle of Montb^liard was held by 
one battalion, and armed with heavy guns. Be- 
tween the Doubs and the Swiss frontier, at Delle, 
General Debschitz had taken up a position with 
eight battalions, two squadrons, and two batteries, 
and General von Werder concentrated the XlVth 
Corps at Noroy, Aillevans, and Athdsans, to oppose 
in strength any movement on the part of the 

From January 5th onwards there were fought 
before Vesoul a series of engagements, in which 
the besiegers advanced from the south and west 
up to within a distance of one mile of that to'vvn. 
There could be no doubt that very considerable 
forces were engaged in these operations. East of 
the Ognon, the enemy's posts were advanced as far 
as Rougemont, although in lesser force. In these 
actions 500 were taken prisoners ; and it was at 
once evident that besides the XVIIIth, also the 
XXIVth and XXth Corps formed part of Bour- 
baki's army ; and this circumstance suddenly threw 
a new light upon a totally changed phase of the 

Transfer of the French Eastern Army to the 
South-Eastern Seat of War, towards the 
END OF December. 

As had been foreseen at army head-quarters 

Freycinet's Tactics. 175 

at Versailles, an attempt had been made to bring 
about a combined action between the forces 
of Chanzy and Bourbaki. As we have already- 
seen, the advance of the former (Chanzy) was met 
by Prince Frederick Charles, already on the Loir, 
and Bourbaki had prepared his advance by Mon- 
targis to the relief of Paris. But he delayed its 
execution until the 19th December, when the Ilnd 
German Army had already returned to Orleans, 
from its expedition to Le-Mans. General Bourbaki 
then perceived the fact that the Ilnd Army would, 
upon his further advance, fall on his flank, and he 
the more readily fell in with another plan, devised 
by Monsieur de Freycinet, and favoured by the 
Dictator Gambetta. 

This was for the XVth Corps to remain at 
Bourges and to secure that place by intrenched 
positions at Vierzon and Nevers ; the XVIIIth and 
XXth were to proceed to Beaune by railway, and, 
in conjunction with Garibaldi and Cremer, 70,000 
strong, to occupy Dijon. The newly-formed 
XXrV'th Corps was also to be moved by railway 
from Lyons to Besan9on, where, in combination 
with the forces already there, it would attain a 
strength of 50,000. Co-operating then with the 
" victorieux de Dijon," it would be easy to raise 
the siege of Belfort, "mSme sans coup f^rir." 
It was considered that the mere presence in that 

176 The Franco-German War. 

place of this large force, greatly exceeding, as it 
did, 100,000, would preclude any attacks upon the 
Northern forts ; in any case, there was the cer- 
tainty of cutting through the enemy's various lines 
of communication, and later on, the prospect of a 
combined action mth Faidherbe. 

The movements by rail from the Loire to the 
Sa6ne had already commenced by December 23rd. 
In the absence of all preparations, many inter- 
ruptions in the traffic naturally occurred, and the 
troops suffered severely from the intense cold and 
from want of necessary comforts. After Chagny 
and Chalons-sur-Seine had been reached, and it 
was ascertained that the Germans had already 
evacuated Dijon, it was decided to again embark 
the troops so as to bring them nearer to Besan9on, 
whence arose a fresh delay ; and it was only in 
the beginning of the new year that the Eastern 
Army was in readiness, between Dijon and Besan- 
9on. The XVth Corps was also ordered up, but 
it took fourteen days to get so far. 

The comprehensive plan of Freycinet, and his 
sanguine expectations, had been favoured by the 
circumstance that the transfer of a large contingent 
of the army to a distant place in the seat of war 
had been kept from the knowledge of the Hnd 
Army, as well as from that of the XlVth Corps 
and army head-quarters, for a fortnight. Ru- 

New Phase of the War. 177 

mours and newspaper articles had no doubt 
somewhat before this given intimations, but Gene- 
ral von Werder's telegram of January 5th was 
the first really authentic announcement by which 
it was known beyond doubt that the Germans 
now stood face to face with a changed aspect of 
the situation. In Versailles arrangements were at 
once made and steps taken for the formation of a 
new Southern Army. 

There was available for this purpose the Ilnd 
Corps at Auxerre, under General von Zastrow, which 
during this period of uncertainty had constantly 
operated between the Saone and Yonne, according 
as the one or the other appeared to be threatened. 
The supreme command of these two Corps, to which 
was afterwards added the XlVth, was entrusted to 
General von Manteuffel. General von Werder 
could not be immediately reinforced, and for a 
time the XlVth Corps was thrown upon its own 

Notwithstanding their advantage, the French 
did more man*uvring than fighting. General 
Bourbaki aimed at surrounding the left wing of 
the XlVth Corps, and thus entirely cutting it off 
from Belfort. 

On January 5th the XVIIIth Corps had ad- 
vanced by Grandvelle, and the XXth by Echenoz- 
le-Sec, on Vesoul; but, as we have seen, they 


178 The Franco-German War. 

had there met with opposition, and as the 
Corps diverging to the right to Esprels heard 
that ViUersexel was occupied by the Germans, the 
Commander determined upon a still more easterly 
and circuitous route. On the 8th the two Corps of 
the left wing marched off to the right, the X Vlllth 
to Montbozon, the XXth to Rougemont; the 
XXIVth went back on Cuse. At the same time 
General Cramer received orders to move from 
Dijon on Vesoul. On the 9th, therefore, the 
XXIVth and XXth Corps lay near Villechevreux 
and Villargent on the Arcey- ViUersexel road, 
whilst the head of the XVIIIth Corps reached 
that latter place and Esprels. 

General von Werder had no alternative but 
to follow this flank movement in all haste. 
He ordered the Baden Division to Ath(5sans, the 
4th Reserve Division to AiUevans, and Von der 
Goltz's Brigade to Noroy-le-Bourg^ The Trains 
were marched on Lure. 

Action of Villersexel. 

(January 9th.) 

On January 9th, at seven in the morning, the 
Reserve Division was sent from Noroy on to 
Aillevans, and commenced bridging the Ognon, to 
admit of the continuation of the march. A flaliik- 

. Action of Villersexel. 179 

ing part of the 25th Regiment, sent to operate 
on the right, was fired on at Villersexel, and the 
attempt to carry the stone bridge at that place 
failed shortly after. The French had occupied, 
with two and a half battalions, the town, situated 
on a height, on the further bank of the river. 
Shortly afterwards reinforcements came up on the 
German side. Two batteries opened fire upon 
the place and upon the still advancing enemy. 
The 25th Regiment crossed the river and broke 
into the walled-in park and into the castle. At 
one o'clock the French were driven out of the 
town, with the loss of many prisoners, and a 
cessation of hostilities ensued. 

The Prussian contingent had been seriously 
threatened in flank by the advance from Espreb of 
the 1st Division and the reserve artillery of the 
French XVIIIth Corps. General von der Goltz, 
however, opposed them by occupying the village of 

He also sent to Villersexel nine companies of 
the 30th Regiment, to the relief of the 25th Regi- 
ment, so as to allow the latter to rejoin its own 
jiivision in the forward march. His combined 
brigade was eventually to form the rear-guard to 
the entire column. 

General von Werder, who observed the con« 
siderable force in which the French moved on 

N 2 

i8o The Franco-German War. 

Villersexel from the south, had concluded that 
there was less to be gained by forcing his own passage 
across the Ognon than by opposing that of the 
French, who saw in it facilities for a nearer 
approach to Belfort. He therefore recalled the 
infantry already issuing from the southern quarter 
of the town, and sent it with the batteries to the 
northern side of the river. Here the main body 
of the 4th Reserve Division took up a defensive 
position, and the Baden Di\dsion was stopped in 
its march at Arpenans ahd Lure, to come to the 
reinforcement it now stood greatly in need of. 

It was already evening when large columns of 
the French advanced on Villersexel and shelled 
the town with their artillery. 

Favoured by the darkness, the French found their 
way into the park and castle, from which the 
German garrison had already been withdrawn ; and 
as the general condition of things did not seem to 
necessitate the occupation of Villersexel, the com- 
manding officer ordered the evacuation of the 
place. Though hard pressed by the enemy, 
this move had been nearly completed, when orders 
arrived from General von Werder to hold the town. 

At once four battalions from the Reserve Divi- 
sion advanced to the renewed attack. The 25th 
Regiment turned about at the bridge over the 
Ognon and joined them. The Landwehr rushed 

German Defeat at Villersexel. i8i 

into the lower floor of the large castle, but the 
French defended the upper floors and the cellar. 
On the stairs and in the passages of the already 
burning buildings there ensued a hot and change- 
ful combat, and the fight was maintained in 
the streets. Not till the General in command 
was left to his own free will, and ordered a 
cessation, were dispositions made at one o'clock in 
the morning for gradual retirement, which was 
completed by three. The Reserve Division then 
recrossed the bridge at Aillevans, and occupied 
St.-Sulpice on its right. 

General von der Goltz had contested Moimay 
until evening. 

Of the XrVth Corps only 15,000 had been 
engaged, of whom 26 officers and 553 men were 
killed. The French losses included 27 officers 
and 627 men ; but they left, behind in the hands 
of the Germans 700 unwounded prisoners. Those 
who chiefly took part in these operations were 
the XVIIIth and XXth Corps; the XXIVth 
Corps, on account of the fighting behind it, had 
discontinued its march from Arcey to Sevenans. 
Detachments of the gradually incoming XVth 
Corps moved from the south in the direction of 

On the morning of January 10th, General 
von Werder massed his Corps in the vicinity 

i82 The Franco-German War. 

of Aillevans, ready to engage the enemy should 
the latter attempt an advance on Viller- 
sexel. But an attack was not made, and thus 
the march was resumed that same morning. As 
a matter of fact, the French in three Corps were 
as near to Belfort as the Germans were with three 
Divisions. To cover the retreat, the Reserve Di\i- 
sion took up a position at Athesans, and on the 
following day all the Commands had reached and 
occupied the Lisaine line. On the right, by Frahier 
and Chalonvillars, stood the Baden Division; in 
the centre, the Reser\'e Brigade, between Chagey 
and Couthenans ; on the left, the Reserve Di\dsion, 
at H^ricourt and Tavey. On the south. General 
von Debschitz watched from Delle, and Colonel von 
Bredow from Arcey ; and to the west, at Lure, was 
Colonel von Willisen, ^Wth the detachment from 
Vesoul of eight comj^anies, thirteen squadrons, 
two batteries. 

It would, in fact, have been possible to pass 
between the enemy and Belfort. 

The French leader had, under the intoxicating 
impression of a victory, resigned himself to in- 
activity. " Le General Billot," he reported to the 
Government at Bordeaux, "a occupe Esprels et 
sy est maintenu." We know that he was 
never attacked there at all, and that he did 
not succeed in driving away General von der Goltz 

Advance on the Lisaine. 183 

from the vicinity of Moimay. "Le General 
Clinchant a enleve avec un entrain remarquable 
Villersexel ;" but the fight of the 9th was, as regards 
the Germans, maintained with only a portion of 
the XlVth Corps, to secure the right flank in the 
march of the main body. Whilst, then, these 
moves were zealously continued, the French anny 
remained stationary for two days, ready for action 
and with the confident expectation that the enemy, 
described as beaten, would return to the attack. 

Only on the 13th did the XXIVth Corps ad- 
vance on Arcey, the XXth on Saulnot, and the 
XVIIIth follow up to Sevenans. The XVth was 
to support an attack on Arcey by Ste.-Marie. 

General von Werder had utilized this interval, 
and preceded the troops to test the possibility of 
taking up a position on the Lisaine, and to take 
counsel with General von Tresckow. 

An inspection showed that at Frahier the 
Lisaine becomes an unimportant streamlet, flow- 
ing through a broad grassy hollow, and thence 
to Chagey through steep wooded slopes. At 
H^ricourt the valley opens out into a wide plain, 
which is however commanded by the rocky heights 
of Mont-Vaudois. Lower down the wooded 
heights follow the river as far as Montbeliard, 
which forms a strong base where the line closes by 
the Allaine. 

;i84 The Franco-German War. 

The wooded nature of the plain, west of the 
Lisaine, would necessarily increase the assailants' 
difficulties in deploying large masses, and with a 
long artillery column. It is true that during the 
prevailing severe cold the river was everywhere 
frozen over ; hut only two high roads ran in the 
direction by which the French army in the 
valley were marching down the stream on Mont- 
beliard and on Hericourt. The other ways down 
were narrow, hollow roads, rendered difficult by 

General von Tresckow had already occupied the 
most important position with siege guns, the Castle 
of Montbeliard with six, and the neighbouring 
height of La-Grange-Dame with five heavy guns. 
Seven of them were placed on Mont-Vaudois and 
near Hericourt; besides these, twenty-one others 
commanded the valley of the Allaine as far as 
Delle, on the south. 

All the troops that could be spared from the 
investing force were withdrawn from before Belfort. 
Still there remained the important consideration 
that the available forces might not suffice to entirely 
cover the whole of the Lisaine hne. The right 
wing was the locally weakest portion of the whole 
position, but here there was the least danger of the 
enemy's main attack, for the many needs of the 
nimierous but inadequately equipped French army 

The Line of the Lisaine. 185 

made the nearest possible vicinity of one of the 
raiboads a necessity. The Vesoul line, over Lui'e, 
was broken in many places, and the Besan9on line 
led to the strong left wing. The country north of 
Chagey might therefore be held by weaker forces, 
and a reserve was formed out of the largest part of 
the Baden Division, which was distributed in rear 
of centre and left between Mandre\dllars, Br6villiers 
and Charmont. 

The respite accorded by the enemy was turned 
to account with th§ utmost eagerness for the dig- 
ging of rifle-pits, the building of batteries, the 
restoring of telegraph and relay lines, the improve- 
ment of roads and the providing of victuals and 

January IMh. — On the morning of the 13th the 
posting of the 3rd Reser\^e Division was begun at 
Arcey, Ste.-Marie and Gonvillars. They were 
instructed to withdraw before a superior force, but 
to hold their o^vn long enough to entail the de- 
ployment of the French columns. The duel with 
the widely dispersed French artillery was there- 
fore prolonged for some time ; then, after a three 
hours' obstinate resistance, a new position was taken 
up behind the stream of the Rupt, and the retreat 
on Tavey delayed imtil four in the afternoon. 
The advanced guard of General von der Goltz, 
after a whole brigade had deployed against it, 

i86 The Franco-German War. 

also took up a position on the same level, at 

Alon": the Allaine line the French had not sue- 
ceeded in driving General von Debschitz's detaxjh- 
jnents out of Dasle and Croix. 

January \U1i. — On the 14th, General von 
Willisen, with fifty dismounted Dragoons, drove 
back the enemy who were advancing on Lure, 
and then retired with his detachment on Ron- 

The French army did not, even on that day, 
undertake a serious attack. It lay massed ^vith the 
XVth, XXIVtli, and XXth Corps, and hardly a 
mile (German) from the German left and centre. 
The right was supposed by General Bourbaki to 
rest upon Mont-Vaudois. His plan was to cross 
the Lisaine above this place in force, and to facili- 
tate the front attack by surrounding the enemy. 
The XVIIIth Army Corps and the Division under 
Cremer were told off for this purpose. The draw- 
back to this judicious ari'angement was that the 
two above-mentioned detachments, destined by the 
officer in supreme command to open the fight on 
the 14th, had to advance by the longest line of 
march. On this day the leading troops of the 
XVIIIth Army Corps barely succeeded in reach- 
ing Lomont, by difficult hill and woodland passes, 
and the Cremer Brigade had only then begun to 

Advance on Belfort. 187 

advance from Vesoul. A postponement to the 
15th was thereupon detennined. 

On the German side, a general attack of the 
superior enemy was hourly expected, and General 
von Werder felt himself bound to telegraph the 
extreme seriousness of his position to Versailles. 
The rivers, being frozen, were passable, and the 
duty of covering Belfort curtailed the liberty of 
his movements and endangered the existence of 
his corps. He earnestly prayed that a decision 
might be arrived at as to whether Belfort was still 
to be held. 

At the army head-quarters it was considered 
that any further withdrawal of the XVth Army 
Corps would have the immediate effect of raising 
the siege and causing the loss of the considerable 
materiel which had been provided for it ; that it 
was impossible to foresee where such a line of 
action would end ; and that it could but delay the 
co-operation of the amiy advancing by forced 
marches under General von Manteuffel. At three 
o'clock p.m. on the 15th of January a positive 
order was conveyed to General von Werder to 
accept battle in front of Belfort. He was, as 
was only fair, relieved of the moral responsibility 
of the consequences of a possibly disastrous issue. 
But before this order could reach him, the General 
had already decided on its execution. 

i88 The Franco-German War. 

Battle of the Lisaine. 
(January 15th to 17th.) 

January 15th. — On the morning of the 15th of 
January, the French XVth Army Corps, ^ith two 
Divisions augmented by artillery, advanced on 
Montb^liard, a third followed in reserve. The 
East-Prussian Landwehr battalions, which had 
pushed fonvard as far as the farm of Mont-Chevis 
and Ste.-Suzanne, held their position for a long 
time, advanced to the attack of their own accord, 
and drove the heads of the enemy's colxmms back 
upon the stream of the Rupt. But when the latter, 
during the afternoon, posted themselves in force 
along the edge of the wood, they were at two 
o'clock ordered back to the left bank of the Lisaine. 
The neighbouring town of Montb^liard, entirely 
commanded by the surrounding heights, was 
voluntarily evacuated, and the fortified castle alone 
held. But east of Montbc^liard General von Gliimer 
with the 1st Baden Brigade took up a position, and 
had four field-batteries besides siege guns brought 
up to the plateau of La-Grange Dame. 

Towards the close of the day the French, after 
continuous but ineffectual bombardment from eight 
batteries, took possession of the to^vn, but did not 
make any further advance. 

Neither had they succeeded in crossing the 

Battle of the Lisaine. 189 

Lisaine at B^thoncourt. An officerand sixty men, 
who sought cover within a walled cemetery from 
the sharp fire of the defenders, were taken pri- 

Further to the north the French XXIVth Corps 
continued to advance, but it was two o'clock 
before their columns succeeded in deploying out of 
the wood. Four battalions did, indeed, succeed in 
entering and occupying the village of Bussurel, 
situated on the western bank of the Lisaine, but 
their further advance was frustrated by the fire of 
the defenders posted behind the railway embank- 
ment, and by that of the Baden battalions and 
batteries drawn from the main reserve. 

H^ricourt, but one mile from Belfort, on the 
great high road of Besan9on, became a place of 
importance in the German line. Here the enemy 
on the hither side of the Lisaine was met by the 
right wing of the 4th Reserve Division. 

The little wooded height of Mougnot, which 
forms a sort of bridge-head at the narrow gorge 
through which the road passes, had been fortified 
by abattis, batteries and rifle-pits, the town in the 
rear prepared for defence, and the base of the 
heights on either side studded with artillery. 
Four East-Prussian Landwehr battalions were 
joined on the right by the Reserve Brigade, which 
held the slopes of Mont-Vaudois as far as Luze. 

igo The Franco-German War. 

At about ten o'clock the French artillery deployed 
on the open heights close to the line of approach in 
the neighbourhood of Tremoins. Upon their in- 
fantry advancing on the left over Byans, the detach- 
ment which till then had been left at Tavey went 
back to H^ricourt in reserve, and the enemy's first 
attack on Mougnot was repulsed by the garrison 
and by the fire of sixty-one guns on the further 
bank of the river. The attempt was not repeated 
on that day, and the French confined themselves to 
a sharp but inefiectual cannonade. 

According to the instructions left behind by 
General Bourbaki, the French were to await the 
result of the great encircling movement which was 
to be carried out by General Billot with the 
XVIIIth and by the Cramer Divisions. As, how- 
ever, these latter had not yet put in an appearance, 
the main reserve had to be brought forward left of 
Coisevaux to secure General Clinchant's flank. 

The orders from head-quarters had only reached 
the XVIIIth Corps at midnight. The latter had 
moreover to effect a hea\y march over deeply 
fenowed-up woodland paths. This entailed inter- 
oommimications, not only between the wing- 
columns of the 1st and 3rd Divisions, but even 
with the Division under Cremer at Lyofians. 
This Di\dsion had by dint of the greatest exer- 
tion reached Lure during the night, and could not 

. Battle of the Lisaine. 191 

get beyond B^veme until nine in the morning. A 
fresh delay was occasioned by the order to bring 
up in front of the infantry the artillery (even the 
reserve artillery, which brought up the rear), and 
thus it happened that the XVIIIth Corps did not 
succeed in deploying two of its Divisions against 
Luze and Chagey till between 12 and 2 p.m. 

The 1st Division occupied Couthenans with one 
battalion, and brought up five batteries on the 
decline behind the heights to the north of that 

But the fire from the bank on the other side of 
the river prevented their further ascent, and after 
the lapse of a short time several of these detach- 
ments had but two guns left fit for action, although 
the Germans, with regard to the difficulty of pro- 
curing fresh ammunition, had used it as sparingly 
as possible. At three o'clock there was a pause in 
the firing, which Avas resumed on the arrival of 
reinforcements, when the artillery of the XXIVth 
Corps took part in it. An infantry attack on a 
larger scale was not yet attempted. 

There was scarcely more purpose in the move- 
ment of the 3rd Division against Chagey, which 
was only occupied by a Baden battalion ; yet it 
was here that the enveloping movement of the 
German right wing by way of Mont-Vaudois was to 
take place. The wood adjoining the first houses 

192 The Franco-German War. 

of the village and its steepness was the only diffi- 
culty attached to the descent of the hill. Two 
French battalions suddenly appeared from the 
gorge that lay south of it and drove in the Baden 
outposts ; the further attack was to be supported 
from Couthenans on the south, but the infantr}' ad- 
vancing from thence foimd itself forced to turn back 
by the fire from the opposite bank. Only after a 
renewed effort did the Zouaves succeed in entering 
Chagey, where a hard fight began amid the houses. 
Meanwhile two Baden battalions arrived, who, at 
five o'clock, drove the enemy out of the villages 
back into the wood. Fresh reinforcements hastened 
to their support from the reserve near at hand, the 
short winter's day was over, and during the night 
the French attempted nothing further. The 2nd 
Division of the French Corps had only arrived as 
far as B4veme, the cavaby had not moved from 

The Cramer Division had, despite its late arrival 
at Lure, continued the march in the early morning. 
After the above-mentioned halts and intercommu- 
nications the 9th Brigade advanced on Etobon, and 
there at noon an engagement took place with a 
detachment of General von Degenfeld. When the 
2nd Brigade came up, the first moved forward 
through the Wood of Thure, to cross the Lisaine 
above Chagey. The roads had first of all to be 

Battle of the Lisaine. 193 

partly made practicable by pioneers, which occa- 
sioned considerable delay. The 2nd Brigade then 
followed in the dark, leaving a reconnoitring party 
behind at Etobon. A fresh collision with some 
Baden contingents determined General Creamer to 
extinguish all the watch-fires. His troops re- 
mained under arms throughout the hard winter 

On the German side, all who were not told off for 
guard found shelter in the neighbouring villages, 
only the pioneers were kept at work with their 
pickaxes. The actions had cost both sides about 
600 men, without bringing about any decisive 
result ; but every day was a gain to the defenders. 

General von Werder, on the heights north of 
Hericourt, had received constant reports as to the 
issue from the head-quarter Staff officers, who had 
been posted in various places, by which the rein- 
forcements from the reserves could be regulated. 
Still the reserve ammunition was a cause of anxiety, 
as a transport announced from Baden had not yet 

General Bourbaki informed his Government that 
he had taken Montb^liard (of course without the 
castle), occupied the villages on the west bank of 
the Lisaine, and that he would attack on the 16th. 
He had learned from General Billot that the Ger- 
man right wing extended far across Mont-Vaudois, 

VOL. II. o 

194 The Franco-German War. 

whence he gathered that they had been consider- 
ably remforced ; he esthnated the enemy at 80,000 
to 100,000 men. Meanwhile he looked forward to 
obtaining good results by extending the encircling 
movement further to the west. 

January IQtJi. — At half-past six on the morning 
of the 16th the Germans once more got underarms 
in the same positions as the previous day. 

The French be^can the attack with their riorht 
wing again. From the loopholed houses they fired 
on the Landwehr company stationed at the Castle 
of ^lontbdliard, causing some loss among the latter 
as well as among the working gxmners. The 
simimons to surrender was disregarded, and the 
fire of the fort artillery used to such good purpose 
against two batteries that had just appeared on the 
neighbouring height, that these were obliged to 
retire, leaving behind them two guns. Neither 
could they advance from a new position they had 
taken up at the farm of Mont-Chevis, where they 
were reinforced by three batteries, for the fire from 
La Grange-Dame, although they continued the 
cannonade until dark. No attempt was made from 
Montb<51iard to break the German line. 

Further to the left the reinforced 1st Division of 
the French XVth Corps advanced on Bethoncourt. 
At one o'clock the fire of their artillery from Mont- 
Chevis and Byans obliged a Baden battery to limber 

Battle of the Lisaine. 195 

up, and it was then brought to bear on the village. 
Meanwhile large bodies had been massed in the 
neighbouring forest, and at three o'clock advanced 
out of it. General Gliimer had abeady sent rein- 
forcements to the threatened spot. Two deter- 
mined attempts to carry the place by rushes close 
up to the position were frustrated by the annihilat- 
ing artillery and rifle fire of the defenders. A third 
attack with a whole brigade, at four o'clock, was 
not even permitted to approach. The losses on the 
French side were considerable, the snowy field was 
strewn with the slain. Some unwounded prisoners 
were also taken. 

One Division of the XXIVth French Army 
Corps had taken up a covered position in the woods 
behind Byans, and as they had already occupied 
Bussurel on the previous day, the German line of 
defence in the rear of the railway embankment 
appeared to be threatened from the immediate 
vicinity. The General in command therefore sent 
General Keller with two Baden fusilier battalions 
and one heavy battery, from Br^villiers in this 
direction. The latter joined the two battalions who 
had been engaged on the slope of the hiU since 
morning. The fire from five of the enemy's 
batteries was soon silenced by the unerring 
orenades of the German ffuns. At noon the 
French artillery retired from Byans, leaving here 

o 2 

196 The Franco-German War. 

also two guns, which cotdd only be brought away 
later. The infantry, one Division strong, had only 
threatened to break the line without proceeding to 
carry it out. 

The XXth Corps brought up two Divisions 
against the H^ricourt — Luze line. A thick fog 
covered the valley, and the early cannonade was at 
first scarcely answered by the Germans. To obtain 
some insight into the plans of the enemy, two com- 
panies of the former had advanced on the height 
west of St.-Valbert, surprising the opponents who 
were advancing from Byans with so rapid a fire 
that they turned back. But soon after, at half- 
past nine, several battalions from Tavey attempted 
to carry the Mougnot. Two attacks were frus- 
trated by the steady resistance of the Landwehr 
battalions, and a third attempt directed against the 
southern defile of H^ricourt had no result. About 
four o'clock the infantry again massed against the 
Mougnot, but renouncing further attacks under the 
fire from Mont Salamou, confined themselves till 
evening to an ineffectual cannonade. 

At Chagey two Divisions of the XVIIIth Corps 
foimd themselves face to face with the Germans. 
They did not attempt anything. 

The slackness with which, on January 16th, the 
action against the whole front from Montb^liard 
to Chagey was conducted, points to the conclusion 

Battle of the Lisaine. 197 

that the French were everywhere awaiting the 
issue of the plan of encircling the German right 

This task now devolved on General Cramer. 
The 2nd Division of the XVIIIth Corps joined him 
at Etobon. 

Two Divisions advanced thence on . Chenebier, 
where General von Degenfeld was with two bat- 
talions, two batteries, and one squadron. There 
could be no doubt as to the result. At eleven 
o'clock the Penhoat Division of the XVIIIth Corps 
advanced from the west to encircle northwards, and 
Cramer's Division, for the purpose of barring the 
defenders' retreat on Belfort, advanced from the 
south, the wood of La-Thure covering his approach. 
The batteries of both Divisions were brought up on its 
northern edge, where they opened fire. After firing 
had continued for two hours, the masses of infantry 
advanced from three sides. Under General Cramer's 
personal guidance the Baden fusiliers were driven 
from the south to the north of the village, and as 
here the surrounding movement through the wood 
of Montedin had become practicable. General von 
Degenfeld was, after an obstinate resistance, 
obliged to begin the retreat in a northerly direction 
through Frahier. Thence he again turned south- 
east and took up a position in front of Chalonvillars, 
on the high-standing miU of Rougeot, where, at six 

198 The Franco- German War. 

o'clock, he was joined by Colonel Bayer with strong 
reinforcements. The French did not pursue ; the 
Cremer Division, which had lost 1000 men, retired, 
on the contrary, on the wood of La-Thure, while 
the Penhoat Division confined itself to the occupa- 
tion of Chenebier. 

Accordingly the German line of defence was not 
broken on this day ; still, its extreme right wing had 
been driven back to within three-quarters of a mile 
of Belfort. 

The fortress celebrated the victory of French 
arms by afeii'-de-joie^ but made no serious attack 
on the investing forces, already weakened by the 
despatch of reinforcements, who, however, on their 
side, quietly continued the construction of batteries. 

General von Werder, desirous above all of setting 
the scene of action back to his right wing, could 
only hold in reserve four battalions, four squadrons, 
and two batteries, bringing up these from the least 
exposed places, and even from Belfort, to Brevilliers 
and Mandrevillars. At eight o'clock in the evening 
General Keller was ordered to retake Chenebier. 
To this end he left Mandrevillars with two Baden 
battalions, reached Moulin-Rougeot at midnight, 
and found Frahier already occupied by Colonel 

January 11 Ih. — On the morning of the 17th, 
eight battalions, two squadrons, and four batteries 

Battle of the Lisaine. 199 

had assembled there. Three of these detachments 
advanced on the northern, three on the southern 
part of Chenebier ; the others remained in reser\T 
at the mill, where also three 15-pounders had been 
set up. 

At half-past 4 a.m. the first column, advancinoj 
in breathless silence, surprised an outpost of the 
enemy's at Echevanne, but it was unavoidable that 
the rifle fire at Chenebier should draw the attention 
of the French to the danger by which they were 
menaced. Even north of the place, in the wood, the 
Germans met with serious resistance ; and the danger 
that in the darkness and the dense undergrowth 
their troops might fall on each other obliged them 
to ^vathdraw them to the outer edge of the wood. 

Tlie other column, advancinor throu<?h the vallev 
of the Lisaine, had advanced at the double as soon 
as the first shots were heard. The 2nd battalion of 
the 4th Baden Regiment rushed with cheers into 
the southern part of Chenebier, where a Avild fight 
ensued. But daybreak showed that the heights on 
the west of the village were strongly occupied, and 
that columns of all arms were approaching from 
Ectobon. At 8.30 Colonel Payen was compelled to 
retire from the half-conquered village, and take up 
a position at the wood of Fery, to cover the road 
to Belfort through Chalonvillars ; he took with him 
400 prisoners. 

200 The Fran- co-German War. 

At the same time the right column, strengthened 
by a battalion of the reserve, had renewed the at- 
tack on the wood, and in a battle which lasted for 
two hours, with heavy losses on both sides, at last 
took possession of it. But the attempt to get into 
the barricaded and strongly-defended village was 

A destructive fire met every attack; one 
single round of mitrailleuse, for instance, killed 
twenty-one of the assailants. At three o'clock in 
the afternoon General Keller therefore collected his 
troops at Frahier, where they were supported by 
four batteries. 

With such inferior strength, and after failing in 
this attempt, it was useless to think of dri\nng the 
enemy beyond Chenebier ; the only thing to do was 
to hinder his further advance on Belfort. The end 
was fully achieved; the French did not pursue. 
Instead of outflanking the German right, they 
seemed chiefly concerned for their own left. They 
defended Chenebier stoutly, but gave up all further 
offensive movements. 

In the expectation of such an attack succeeding, 
General Bourbaki's plan seems to have been to 
engage the enemy in front only, and so detain him. 
Even durino: that ni<]:ht the Germans were alarmed 
at Bethoncourt and before Hericourt, while they, 
on their part, disturbed the French at Bussui-el and 

Battle of the Lisaine. 201 

in the wood of La-Thure. The infantry fire went 
on for hours, and nuinerous detachments had to 
spend the cold wmter's night under arms. In the 
morning two Divisions of the XVIIIth Corps 
(French) advanced on Chagey and Luze, supported 
by the Army Reserve artillery, but they could not 
come up with the Germans, so several repeated 
attacks on those places were without result. 
Firing went on incessantly from one o'clock. 
In front of Hericourt there was a mutual shelling, 
and Bussurel, held by the French, was in flames. 

To drive the French out of Montb^liard, the town 
was fired on from La-Grange-Dame and from the 
Chdteau till the inhabitants begged that it might be 
spared, declaring that the position was abandoned, 
which subsequently proved to be false. Ten: batta- 
lions of the French XVth Corps advanced from the 
woods in the forenoon, and tried to push on past 
Montb^Uard, but suffered severely from the flanking 
fire of the heavy guns at La-Grange-Dame ; only a 
few got into the valley of the Lisaine. The western 
road from Montb^liard, and the hills immediately in 
front of it, remained in the hands of the French, 
but the attack ceased at about two in the after- 

Further to the south. General von Debschitz's 
posts in front of Allaine had easily checked the 
advance of the French detachments. 

202 The Franco-German War, 

The Germans were now convinced that no further 
attack would be attempted. 

The condition of the French troops, not yet 
inured to war, was, in fact, serious. They had 
been obliged to bivouac in bitter weather, some- 
times under arms, and for the most part without 
food. Their losses were enormous, and the superior 
officers who were invited to meet the Grenerals at 
three in the afternoon, in the neighbourhood of 
Chagey, expressed their objections to a yet more 
extensive movement to the left, since supplies 
would be impossible, and there would be danger of 
the Germans cutting off the conmiunications from 
the side of Montb^liard. On this came the news 
that the heads of General von Manteuffel's Corps 
had already reached Fontaine-Fran9aise, and was 
near to Gray. 

Under these circumstances General Bourbaki 
thought he must decide on a retreat. He tele- 
graphed to the Government that by the advice of 
his Generals, and to his deep regi'et, he had been 
compelled to take up a position further in the rear, 
and only hoped that the enemy might follow him. 
Hence this experienced General can have felt no 
doubt that his army, after failing in the attack on 
the Lisaine, could only escape a very critical position 
by a steady retreat. 

January ISth. — On the morning of the 18th the 

Battle of the Lisaine. 203 

Germans were in the positions they had secured 
the day before, and under arms, the French in full 
force along the whole front. It was a significant fact 
that they were busily employed on the construction 
of earthworks. They had evacuated Montbdliard 
the evening before, and now held the country to 
the west of the town strongly manned and fortified. 

During this day nothing occurred but a shell- 
ing and small skirmishes. General Keller had 
come up on the right German wing with reinforce- 
ments, and as the enemy retired to Etobon in the 
afternoon he was able to re-occupy Chenebier. 
Further north. Colonel von WiUisen again marched 
on Ronchamp. Coutenans was taken possession of 
in the centre, and the enemy driven out of Byans 
by artillery fire ; but on the other hand the 
Germans could not yet penetrate the woods. On 
the southern bank of the Allaine General von 
Debschitz's detachment drove the enemy back 
beyond the line of Exincourt-Croix. 

In the three days' fighting on the Lisaine the 
Germans had lost 1200, the French from 4000 to 
6000 men. 

In spite of many detachments having to be 
drafted off, and of the threatening attitude of 
the enemy, the siege-works were uninterruptedly 
carried on outside Belfort, and as soon as the 
investing forces were again reinforced General von 

204 The Franco-German War. 

Werder followed the retiring French to Etobon, 
Saulnot and Arcey. 

The Bombardment of Paris. 
(January, 1871.) 

In the place of the Ilnd Corps, now engaged 
with the Army of the South, the 1st Bavarian Corps 
had come up, of which Gambetta had said, " Les 
Bavarois n'existent plus." It had made such good 
use of its time of rest south of Longjumeau that 
by the beginning of the New Year it was already 
17,500 strong, with 108 guns. It was drawn up 
between the Vlth Prussian Corps and the Wurtem- 
burg Division on both banks of the Seine. The 
Wurtemburgers extended from Ormesson to the 
Mame, and between that river and the Sausset 
were the Saxons, so as to diminish the front of the 
Guards' Corps now that the Moree was frozen over 
and afforded no protection. 

The observation of such a huge stronghold made 
great demands on the endurance of the troops. 

By extending their works more and more out- 
side ViUejuif and Bruyeres, the French threatened 
to outflank the Ilnd Bavarian Corps. To avert 
such an attack the Vlth was obliged to keep a 
strong detachment constantly in readiness at 

The supports on the south could not in any 

Bombardment of Paris. 205 

way be protected against the fire of the heavy- 
fortress guns, nor the outposts against that of the 
Chassepots. They consequently could often not be 
relieved for several days, and the relief was 
usually effected at night. The less the success of 
the French arms in the open field, the more lavish 
were they in the expenditure of ammunition from 
their works. 

Mont Valerien hurled its giant shells to a dis- 
tance of from seven to eight kilometres (from 
four to five English miles), but this perpetual 
cannonade, to .whose din the ear was soon accus- 
tomed, did little damage. 

The Artillery Attack on the Southern Front — 
Till Mont Avron was carried, the Germans had 
only been able to brrag field guns to bear against 
the French fortress artillery. But early in 
January their preparations had at last got so far 
forward that seventeen batteries, which had long 
been completed, could be armed with heavy guns 
against the southern front. A battery stood apart 
on the left wing in the park of St. Cloud, to the 
north of Sevres ; four more, close together, on the 
steep slope of the hill to the west of Meudon ; five 
crowned the plateau of Moulin-de-la-Tour, where 
the mill, serving to guide the aim of the French, 
had been blown up. Four more batteries were 
constructed in a lower position between Fontenay 

2o5 The FkancoGerman War. 

and Bagneux. Two, between Chevilly and La-Rue^ 
protected the German troops against a flank move- 
ment from Villejuif, with the field artillery of the 
Ilnd Bavarian and Vlth Corps. Covered ways 
were prepared, and intermediate depots were sup- 
plied with ammunition from the great magazines 
at Villacoublay. 

Colonels von Rieff and von Ramm conducted 
the artillery attack under Greneral von Kameke 
and General Prince Hohenlohe; General Schulz 
directed the engineering works. The men served 
twenty-four hours in the batteries, and then took 
two days' rest. The officers had but one day's 

The heavy guns were brought into position be- 
hind masked batteries on January 3rd by daylight, 
without any interference ; in all the others by 
night, after the outposts had been driven in. Thus, 
on the morning of the 4th, 98 guns were ready to 
open fire: 28 on Issy, 28 on Vanves, and 18 on 
Montrouge ; 10 against the emplacements between 
the first two forts. But a thick fog hid every 
object, and it was not till January 5th, at 8.30 
in the morning, that the signal was given for 
opening fire. 

The enemy replied at once. There were in Fort 
Vali^rien 106 guns, in Issy 90, in Vanves 84, and 

Bombardment of Paris. 207 

in Montrouge 52 ; there were about 70 in the 
sectors of the ramparts which came under fire 
and at Villejuif, 16-cm. guns for the most part ; 
so the attack at first was under great difficulties. 
But when, at about noon, all the batteries had 
opened fire, the situation gradually improved, and 
the greater accuracy of the Grerman aim began to 
tell. Issy was almost silenced by two o'clock, 
nine guns were destroyed in Vanves, and had lost 
thirty gunners ; only Montrouge still replied with 
any vigour. The artillery from the ramparts now 
opened fire, but the forts never again got the best 
of it. Some gunboats coming up by Point-du- 
Jour very soon had to retire. 

The field-guns of the Ilnd Bavarian and Vlth 
Corps were also so efiective that no attack was 
attempted from the works at Villejuif, nor was a 
shot fired on the batteries at Bagneux. A num- 
ber of parapet guns and the long-range Chassepots 
looted from the French did such good service that 
the enemy were driven further and further in. The 
German outposts took possession of the trenches of 
Clamart, and in the course of the night turned their 
front towards the forts. 

Only a few 15-cm. shells were thrown into the 
city as a serious announcement ; the first thing to 
be done was to batter down the outworks, and for 

2o8 The Franco-German War. 

some few days all the firing was directed on them. 
The most serious counter attack was from Mont- 
rouge and from a mortar-battery in a very 
advantageous position behind the high railway 
embankment to the east of Issy ; next, from the 
south front of the ramparts, almost a mile (German) 
long in a straight line. Foggy weather on some 
days necessitated a suspension or entire cessation 
of firing. But meanwhile the German advanced 
lines were from 750 to 450 metres nearer to the for- 
tifications. New batteries were constructed further 
forward, and armed with thirty-six guns out of 
those left in the rear. 

January 10th. — ^The French garrison were all 
this time very active. On January 10th they suc- 
ceeded in the dark hours in carrying the weakly- 
occupied position at Clamart. They placed three 
battalions in the place, and dug a shelter-trench 
of 1200 metres towards Ch^tillon. 

January \Uh. — ^The Ilnd Army of Paris was 
still encamped outside the town to the east and 
north, from Nogent to AuberviUers. After some 
small alarms, on the evening of the 13th some 
strong detachments advanced, under cover of a hot 
fire from the forts from Coumeuve and Drancy on 
Le-Bourget. But the troops in occupation were 
on the alert, and being reinforced at once by 
several companies, repulsed the repeated attempts 

Retaliation from the Forts. 209 

of the French to storm it till two o'clock in the 

January lUh. — On this day the French renewed 
the attempt on Clamart with 500 marine infantry 
and several battalions of the National Guard. 
When these last had assembled at the railway- 
station near, with a great deal of noise, their 
advance was reported soon after midnight. The 
fight lasted about an hour, and ended with the 
retreat, or flight, of the attacking party. Patrols 
pursued them close up to the trenches of Issy. 

The distance was so great that the fire from 
the ramparts had not yet perceptibly moderated. 
Battery No. 1, isolated in the park of St.-Cloud, 
suffered most, being shelled by two batteries, from 
Point-du-Jour and from Mont-Val^rien. The 
steep slope behind the battery made it easy for the 
enemy to take aim. The breastwork was repeatedly 
breached, and it was only the most zealous devo- 
tion which enabled the struggle to be continued at 
this point. The French also poured a heavy fire 
into batteries Nos. 19 and 21, pushed forward into 
a particularly dangerous position under Fort 
Vanves. The fire from the ramparts, coming 
from a long range to the breastwork, was plung- 
ing and breaking through the platforms, and 
a great many gunners were wounded or killed. 
The powder-magazine blew up in two of the 

VOL. II. p 

2IO The Franco-German War. 

batteries, wounding both the officere in command, 
besides several other superior officei-s. 

To the east of Paris, the fifty-eight German gims 
placed there after the reduction of Mont-Avron 
were opposed to 151 of the French. The G-ermans 
nevertheless soon proved their superiority ; the 
forts only occasionally opened fire; the French 
withdrew their outposts to the works, and alto- 
gether vacated the peninsula of St.-Maur. By 
degrees the heavy siege-guns could be removed 
from hence to the banks of the Moree. 

The forts to the south had meanwhile suffered 
severely. The ruin at Issy was visible to the 
naked eye; fire broke out repeatedly, and the 
powder-magazine had to be cleared out at great 
risk in the night of January 16th. Fort Vanves 
had lost seventy men ; it opened fire usually every 
morning, but soon became silent. Montrouge, on 
the contrary, on some days filled as many as 500 
rounds from eighteen guns. But here, too, the 
casemates no longer afforded any shelter, and one 
of the bastions was a heap of ruins. 

In spite of the steady fire from the ramparts, part 
even of Paris was distressed by the 15-cm, shells. 
An elevation of 30 degrees, through a peculiar 
contrivance, sent the shot into the heart of the 
city. From 300 to 400 shells were fired daily. 

Under the pressure of public opinion the Grovem- 

Debates in Paris. 211 

ment, after repeated deliberations, decided on 
another great enterprise, to be directed this time 
against the German batteries at Chatillon. The as- 
sembled Generals agreed, indeed, that such sorties 
could promise no results without the co-operation of 
an army outside ; but, on the 8th, Gambetta had an- 
nounced the " victory " of the Army of the North 
at Bapaume, and had promised that both the Armies 
of the Loire should advance. Hereupon General 
Trochu advised that they should at least await 
the moment when the investing army should be 
weakened by detailing further detachments ; but he 
was opposed by the other members of the Govern- 
ment, especially by Monsieur Jules Favre. He 
explained that the Maires of Paris were indignant 
at the bombardment, that the representatives 
of the city must be allowed some insight into 
the military situation, and, above all, that nego- 
tiations ought long since to have been entered 

Finally, on January 15th, it was determined 
that the German lines should be broken through at 
Montretout, Garches, and Buzanval. 

While confusion and dissensions thus prevailed 
in Paris, the unity of the German nation was 
proclaimed at Versailles under the Emperor 

p 2 


212 The Franco-German War. 

Battle of MoNT-VALfiRiEX. 
(Januaiy 19th.) 

The sortie was to be effected on January 19 th. 
On that day, as we have seen, Greneral Faidherbe 
marched on St.-Quentin, on the way to Paris, and 
the army which was to make the sortie was stand- 
ing on the eastern and northern fronts of the 
capital. The attempt to break through was, how- 
ever, made on the opposite side. In fact, the 
peninsula of GennevilHers was the only ground 
on which large masses of troops could be deployed 
without being exposed for hours, while they 
were being assembled, to the fire of the German 

Two days previously the mobilized National 
Guard had relieved the divisions told off for the 
sortie, from the positions they held; 90,000 
men in three columns were to attack at the same 
time. General Vinoy on the left, supported by the 
fire from the rampart, was to carry the height of 
Montretout ; General Bellemare in the centre was 
to advance on Garches ; General Ducrot on the 
right, on the Ch&teau of Buzanval. 

The attack was to begin at six in the morning, 
but blocks occurred at the bridges of Asnieres and 
NeuiUy, as no explicit orders had been issued for 
crossing them. When, at seven o'clock, the signal 

Attack on Mont-Val£rien. 213 

to advance was made by gun-fire from Mont- 
Valerien, only the head of General Vinoy s force 
was formed up, the other columns had not yet 
deployed, and the last detachments tailed back 
as far as Courbevoix. Before they had reached 
the rendezvous the left wing was already marching 
fifteen battalions on St.-Cloud. 

These at first met only isolated posts and 
patrols, eighty-nine men in all, who rushed into 
the gorge of the work of Montretout, and there 
made a stand for some time; they then fought 
their way out with great bravery, but some of 
them were taken prisoners. There, and on the 
north of St.-Cloud, the French at once prepared 
for defence. 

The centre column, under General BeUemare, 
also took possession without difficulty of the hill of 

Not tiU now, nearl)?' nine o'clock, did the first 
supports of the German outposts appear on the 
scene. Till within a short time the patrols had 
been able to report nothing but thick fog ; but 
reports from the right and left wings announced 
that a serious attack was threatened on the whole 
front from St.-Cloud to Bougival. The IVth 
Corps were called out, and General von Kirch- 
bach joined the 9th Division. To the German 
right, in the park of St.-Cloud, stood the 17th 

214 The Franco-German War. 

Brigade ; to the left, behind the Porte-de-Longboyau, 
the 20th ; the other troops of the Corps advanced 
from their quarters at Versailles and the villages 
to the north of it on Jardy and Beauregard. The 
Crown Prince ordered six battalions of the Land- 
wehr Guard and a Bavarian Brigade on Versailles, 
and himself rode to the Hospice of Brezin ; the 
King went to Marly. 

The French meanwhile had seized the foremost 
houses at Garches, and made their way here and 
there through the breaches in the east wall into the 
park of the Ch&teau of Buzanval. The 5th Jiiger 
Battalion, supported by single companies of the 
58th and 59th Regiments, drove the enemy back on 
Garches, occupied the cemetery on the north, and 
still reached the advanced posts at La-Bergerie in 
good time. The other Di^dsions under General von 
Bothmer carried on a persistent fight, by order from 
head-quarters, on the skirts of the park of St.-Cloud, 
merely to gain time. By half-past nine they had 
repulsed an attack by BeUemare's column, stopped 
the advance of the French up the Rue-Imperiale of 
St.-Cloud, and even returned the attack from the 
GriUe-d'Orl^ans and the Porte-Jaune. It was in 
vain that five French battalions tried to storm 
La-Bergerie. A squad of Engineers had tried 
with great self-sacrifice to demolish the wall which 
surrounded the enclosure, but the d}Tiamite was 

Fighting in St.-Cloud. 215 

frozen and would not explode, and the Jagers held 
the position steadfastly throughout the day. 

The attacks of the French had hitherto been 
attempted with no help from their artillery. That 
of General Vinoy had been seriously delayed by 
running into the centre column, and now lingered in 
the rear to meet a possible attack at Briqueterie. 
General Bellemare's batteries tried to get up the 
slope of the hill of Garches, but the exhausted 
condition of the horses compelled them to take up 
a position at Fouilleuse. Meanwhile the batteries 
of the 9th Division (German) came up one by one, 
and by noon thirty-six guns had opened fire. In 
St.-Cloud a hot street-fight was going on. General 
Ducrot alone, on the French right wing, had 
opened the battle with his strong force of artillery, 
which he got into position on both sides of Rueil. 
The tirailleurs then advanced, and made their way 
through the park of Buzanval to the western wall, 
but were then driven back by the 50th Regiment 
of Fusiliers. 

At half-past ten the chief attack was made at this 
point, and supported by part of the central column. 
Only a non-commissioned officer's detachment met 
the attack at Malmaison, but at the eastern road from 
Bougival, at La- Jouchfere and Porte-de-Longboyau, 
it found the 20th Infantry Brigade, which had 
already been reinforced. General von Schmidt still 

2i6 The Franco-German War. 

kept the reserve of the 10th Division in the rear 
at Beauregard. A murderous fire from the well- 
protected German infantry checked the rush of the 
French, and converted it by mid-day into a steady 
fire action, the German artillery joining in with 
great effect. Two batteries of the 10th Division 
at St.-Michel were strengthened by two of the 
Guards' brought up from St.-Germain to Louven- 
ciennes ; a third advanced on Chatou and drove 
an armour-plated train on the station north of Rueil 
to retire rapidly on Nanterre. Four batteries of 
the IVth Corps finally opened fire from Carrieres, 
without heeding the guns of Valdrien, shelling the 
compact masses of French infantry, who still held 
Rueil in the rear. 

At two o'clock the French decided on renewing 
the attack. When two of their batteries had bom- 
barded Porte-de-Longboyau a brigade marched on 
this place, and a second on the western wall of the 
park of Buzanval ; a third followed to give sup- 
port. Equally bold, but equally unsuccessful, was 
the attempt of a party of Engineers, one officer and 
ten men, to blow up part of the wall ; they were all 
killed. The attacking columns had advanced to 
within 200 paces, but now thirteen companies 
met them from the German side, and, firing 
on them at the most effective range, stopped 
their advance, and presently routed the French 

Fighting at St.-Cloud. 217 

in spite of a valiant effort on the part of their 

They found, however, a good support in the 
park-wall, which had been prepared for defence 
with great skill and with the utmost rapidity. The 
attack of some companies from Brezin and La- 
Bergerie on this wall was repulsed with heavy loss. 

But the strength of the French attack was already 
broken. Even by three o'clock a retreat was ob- 
servable in the left; wing, and as dusk fell they 
began gradually, in the centre, to withdraw from 
the heights of Maison-du-Cure. When Colonel 
von Kothen pursued, "with a small force, several 
battalions indeed fronted, and even attempted a 
counter-attack; but timely support arrived from 
La-Bergerie, Garches, and Porte-Jaune, and, 
seconded by the fire of the batteries, the Germans 
continued the pursuit. The King's Grenadiers 
drove the enemy almost as far back as FouiUeuse. 

Still, the Germans had not succeeded in re- 
possessing themselves of the works at Montre- 
tout. The chief difficulty arose from their having 
been unable to advance through the town of St.- 
Cloud. As, however, these positions were indis- 
pensable for the protection of the right wing. Gene- 
ral von Kirchbach gave orders that they were to be 
carried either that evening or early next morning. 

General von Sandrart decided on immediate 

2i8 The Franco-German War, 

action, and at eight that evening five batteries ad- 
vanced to the attack. Only a few French were 
found in the earthworks, and these were taken 
prisoners ; but in the town the struggle was severe. 
Finally the Germans had to restrict themselves to 
blockading the houses occupied by the enemy. 
The French also held the wall of the park of 
Buzanval all through the night. The Landwehr 
Guard and the Bavarian Brigade were therefore 
assigned quarters in Versailles, to form a strong 
reserve close at hand in case of need on the 
following day. The remainder of the troops with- 
drew into their former quarters. 

At half-past five General Trochu had ordered a 
retreat. He perceived that a prolonged struggle 
could not succeed, especially as the National Guard 
were mutinous. The brave defenders of St.-Cloud 
were forgotten in these orders ; they did not sur- 
render till the day after, when artillery opened 
fire on the houses they had occupied. Even the 
park-wall was held till the following morning. 

The French attack of January 19th had failed 
before reaching the enemy's main position. The 
reserves in readiness on the German side had not 
been brought into action. The Vth Corps alone 
had driven in an enemy of four times its own 
strength. It lost 40 officers and 570 men; the 
French loss in killed and wounded was 145 officers 

The Bombardment Continued. 219 

and 3423 men, besides 44 officers and 458 men 
taken prisoners. 

When .the fog lifted, at about eleven o'clock on 
the morning of the 20th, they were seen retreating 
on Paris, in long colxunns, across the peninsula of 

The Bombardment of Paris till the 

After the repulse of this last struggle for .release 
on the part of the ganison, the bombardment was 
renewed on the north as well as the south and west. 

The siege-guns no longer needed against the 
smaller fortresses and on the Mame were parked 
to this end at Villiers-le-Bel. The Army of the 
Meuse had prepared abundant material for con- 
structing batteries, and requisitioned above 600 
waggons. Already twelve batteries were placed 
in the lines between Le-Bourget and Lac- 
d'Enghien, and the guns were mostly brought up 
at night. ' By January 21st eighty-one heavy gims 
were ready for action, and Colonel Bartsch opened 
fire at nine that morning on La-Briche, Double- 
Couronne, and Fort-de-l'Est. 

The forts, now exposed to the fire of 143 heavy 
guns, replied briskly, and on the following day 
the thick weather prevented the Germans from 

220 The Franco-German War. 

opening fire again till the afternoon. But the 
ground in front was clear of the French, and the 
outposts of the German Guards and IVth 
Corps took possession of Villetaneuse and Temps- 

In the course of the night, fire was opened on St.- 
Denis, with every endeavour to spare the Cathedral, 
and many places were set in flames. 

By the 23rd the steady fire of the Germans had 
perceptibly reduced the \agour of the French ar- 
tillery. La-Briche was silenced, and the other 
forts only fired an occasional salvo. 

During the night of the 25th four batteries were 
advanced to within from 1800 to 1200 metres of 
the enemy's outworks. Engineering works could 
now be begun, and a row of new batteries was con- 
structed, for which, however, there was never any 

The eficct of this six days' bombardment was 

The forts had suffered greatly. On this side — ' 
unlike the south front — they lacked the support of 
the ramparts behind them, and they had, too, no 
bomb-proof space. The temporary galleries were 
shattered by shell, the powder-magazines were in 
the greatest danger, and the garrisons were devoid 
of shelter. The inhabitants of St.-Denis fled to 
Paris in crowds, and the insufficient security of the 

The Bombardment Continued. 221 

battered works were no longer a protection against 
assault if the city held out any longer. 

The attack on the north front had cost the Ger- 
mans one officer and twenty-five men ; the French 
stated their loss at 180. 

The fire of the forts on the east front was kept 
under, and the Wurtemburg Field Artillery was 
enough to prevent the French firom again getting a 
foothold on the peninsula of St.-Maur. 

The south front meanwhile suffered more and 
more from the steady bombardment. The ram- 
parts and the mortar-pits behind the railway 
were still active, but in the forts the barracks 
were in ruins, partly battered in and partly 
burnt down, and the men had to take shelter in 
the empty powder-magazines. The ramparts were 
too much choked for free circulation, the parapets 
afforded no protection. In Vanves the gaps 
were filled up with sand-bags; in Issy, on the 
southern curtain, five blocks of casemates in the 
outer wall were demolished. Even the isolated 
ravelin-walls of Vanves and Montrouge were de- 
stroyed, forty guns dismounted, and seventy gun- 
carriages wrecked. 

The whole situation of France, political and 
military, and above all that of Paris, was such as 
to cause the Government the gravest anxiety. 

Since the retuiTi of Monsieur Thiers from his 

222 The Franco-German War. 

diplomatic tour it was certain that no mediatory 
influence would be exerted by any foreign power. 
The sufferings of the capital were now very great. 
Scarcity and high prices had for some time been a 
burthen to the inhabitants ; their provisions were 
exhausted, and even the army stores of the garrison 
had been encroached on. Fuel was lacking in the 
bitter cold, and petroleum was an inefficient sub- 
stitute for gas. When the long-deferred bombard- 
ment began on the south side of Paris, the people 
took refuge ia the cellars or fled to the remoter 
quarters of the town ; and when the northern side 
was also shelled the inhabitants of St. -Denis crowded 
into the capital. 

The great sortie of the 19th had proved a total 
failure, and no relief was to be hoped for from outside 
since Grambetta had sent news of the defeat at Le- 
Mans. The Paris Army, of whose inactivity he com- 
plained, was reduced to a third of its original strength 
by cold, sickness, and desertion. The horses had to 
be killed to provide meat for the inhabitants, and 
General Trochu declared any further offensive 
movements to be quite hopeless ; the means even 
of passive resistance were exhausted. 

Hitherto the Government had been able to keep 
the populace in a good humour by highly-coloured 
reports, but now the disastrous state of affairs could 
no longer be concealed. Everything they could do 
was wrong. 

The Condition of Paris. 223 

There was a large body of people in Paris who 
were but little affected by the general distress. 
Those members of the civilian class who had been 
equipped for the defence of their country were fed 
and well paid by the authorities, without having 
too much to do for it. They were joined by all the 
dubious social elements, whose interest it was to 
foment disorder ; these had been quite content with 
the state of affairs as they had been on September 
4th, and these formed the mob which was presently 
to assume the hideous aspect of the Commune. 
Already some popular gatherings had been only 
dispersed by force of arms, and even a part of the 
National Guard had given signs of some mutinous 
outbreak. The revolutionary clubs, too, supported 
by the press, demanded further active measures, 
even a sortie en masse of all the inhabitants of Paris, 
Thus the feeble Government, dependent as it was 
on popular favour alone, was under pressure from 
the impossible demands of an ignorant mob on the 
one hand, and, on the other, the inexorable coercion 
of facts. 

There was absolutely no escape but by capitu- 
lation ; every delay increased the necessity, and 
left them at the mercy of harder terms. Unless all 
the railways were at once thrown open for the 
delivery of supplies from a considerable distance, 
the horrors of famine were imminent for more than 
two million souls ; and later it might not be possi- 

224 The Franco-German War. 

ble to meet it. Yet no one dared utter the fatal 
word surrender, no one would take the responsibility 
of the inevitable. 

A great council of war was held on the 21st. 
Ajb all the elder Generals pronounced any further 
offensive measures to be quite impossible, it was pro- 
posed that the younger military authorities should 
be consulted, but no decision was arrived at. As, 
however, some one must be made answerable for 
every misfortune. General Trochu, hitherto the 
most popular member of the Government, was 
degraded from his position as Governor, and the 
chief command was entrusted to General Vinoy. 
General Ducrot resigned his command. 

All this did nothing to improve the situation, so 
on the 23rd, Monsieur Jules Favre made his appear- 
ance at Versailles to negotiate at any rate for an 

The German Emperor was ready to meet this 
request ; but of course some guarantee must be 
given that the capital, after obtaining supplies, 
would not renew its resistance. All the forts were 
to be given up, including Mont-Valerien and the 
city of St. -Denis, and the disarmament of the 
I'amparts was demanded and acceded to. 

All hostilities were to be suspended on the even- 
ing of the 26th, so far as Paris was concerned, and 
aU ways of ingress to be throAvn open. A general 

Terms of the Armistice. 225 

armistice of twenty-one days was to begin from the 
31st of January, exclusive, however, of the depart- 
ments of Doubs, Jura, and C6te-d'or, and of the 
fortress of Belfort, where, at the time, operations 
were being carried on, in which both sides were 
equally hopeful of success. 

This armistice gave the Committee of National 
Defence time enough to call a freely-elected 
National Assembly together at Bordeaux, whose 
business it would be to decide whether the war 
should be continued, or on what conditions peace 
could be concluded. The election of the depu- 
ties was unimpeded and uninfluenced even in 
the parts of the coimtry occupied by German 

The regular forces of the Paris garrison, troops 
of the line, marines, and Gardes-Mobiles were to 
lay down their arms at once ; only 12,000 men and 
the National Guard were to retain them for the 
preservation of order. The garrison were interned 
for the time of the armistice ; afterwards they were 
to be regarded as prisoners. As to their transfer 
to Grermany, where every possible place was already 
overflowing with prisoners, that question was post- 
poned in expectation of a probable peace. 

The forts were occupied on the 29th without 

The French Army gave up 602 guns, 1,770,000 


226 The Franco-German War. 

stand of arms, and above 1000 ammunition- 
waggons; the fortress surrendered 1362 heavy 
guns, 1680 gun-carriages, 860 limbers, 3,500,000 
cartridges, 4000 hundred-weight of powder, 
200,000 shells, and 100,000 round-shot 

The blockade of Paris, which had lasted 132 
days, was over, and the greater part of the German 
forces detained outside the walls were released to 
end the war in the open field. 



The Army of the South under General 
VON Manteuffel. 

The two Army Corps under General von Man- 
teuffel consisted altogether of fifty-six battalions, 
twenty squadrons, and 168 guns. When he arrived 
at Ch&tiUon-sur-Seine on January 12th, the Ilnd 
Corps was on the right, and the Vllth on the left 
of Noyers, extending to Montigny over ten miles 
(German). One brigade, under General von 
Damienberg, which had already had several frays 
with portions of the French Army of the Vosges, 
had advanced on VUaines to cover the right flank. 

Several good roads led from these quarters con- 
vergiag on Dijon ; to Vesoid, on the contrary, the 
roads were bad, and deep in snow down the 
southern slopes of the wild plateau of Langres. The 
Commander-in-Chief, nevertheless, took this line of 
march, to afford General von Werder indirect assis- 
tance at least, as soon as possible, by coming up 
in the rear of the enemy who threatened him. 


228 The Franco-German War, 

The advance was between the two towns of 
Dijon and Langres, both strongly occupied by the 
French. Wooded heights and deep ravines sepa- 
rated the columns and prevented any mutual sup- 
port ; each had to provide for its own safety on 
every side. The troops had severe fatigues to en- 
counter, and badly as they needed rest none could 
be granted, nor could the evil plight of their boots 
and the horses' shoes be in any way remedied. 

On January 14th the march began in a thick 
fog and bitter cold, along roads frozen as smooth as 

To keep up the supplies was absolutely essential, 
and the 8th Brigade had from the first to be left 
in the rear to secure the all-important railway-line 
from Tonnerre by Nuits and Ch&tillon, until com- 
munications could be established vid Epinal, 

On the very first day the advanced guard of the 
Vllth had a fight before Langres. A detachment 
of the garrison of 15,000 men wasr.epulsed on the 
fortress with the loss of a standard, and a detach- 
ment was therefore left behind to observe the place. 
Under its protection the Corps marched past the 
fortress next day, while the Ilnd advanced as far 
as the Ognon. 

The weather changed during the night of the 
15th. Fourteen degrees of frost (Centigrade) gave 
way to storm and rain. The water lay on the 

Advance on the Doubs. 229 

frozen roads, and it was with the greatest difficulty 
that the Vllth Corps reached Prauthoy and the 
Ilnd Moloy, closing up to the left. 

On the 18th the left wing advanced on Frettes 
and Champlitte, to the south-east, the right 
assembled at Is-sur-TiUe, and its advanced guard, 
after marching fifty kilometres (thirty-one English 
miles), reached the bridges at Gray. On the flank 
and rear of the Corps, there had been some fighting, 
but the heavy march across the mountains was over 
and they were in the cultivated vaUey of the Saone. 

General von ManteufFel had already received 
news of the happy issue of the first day s fighting 
on the Lisaine. Later telegrams from General von 
Werder reported that the French Army of the East 
would probably be obliged to retire imder difficul- 
ties, and the German general at once determined 
to cut off its retreat on the Doubs below Besan9on. 

The defeated French army was still greatly 
superior in number to the German force. And the 
troops must again be called upon for severe exer- 
tions. They must again cross a thinly-populated and 
mountainous country, where it would be a matter 
of great difficulty to procure food and the shelter 
needful during the bitter winter nights. They 
must also leave hostile forces in the rear, imder 
very insufficient observation at Langres, Dijon, and 
Auxonne. However, in spite of every obstacle 

230 The Franco-German War, 

the advance in this new direction was begun on the 

The first difficulty might be the crossing of the 
Sadne, here very deep and sixty metres wide, and 
full of drifting ice ; but the advanced guard of the 
Ilnd Corps had found Gray abandoned by the 
French and both the bridges uninjured, and had 
taken possession of the place. The head of the 
Vllth Corps crossed the river by the railway-bridge 
at Savayeux, which was found intact, and by a 
pontoon-bridge thrown across higher up. 

On the following day both Corps advanced in a 
southerly direction, the Vllth on Gy, the Ilnd on 
Pesmes. Here they crossed the Ognon after 
driving off by artillery fire a French detachment 
which tried to oppose the construction of the bridge. 

On the 21st, the advanced guard found Dole 
occupied by the enemy. General von KobUnski 
attacked at once ; in spite of a violent street-fight, 
in which the townspeople took part, the Grenadiers 
of the 2nd Regiment made their way through the 
town and seized a train on the other side of 230 
waggons of provisions and necessaries, intended for 
Besan9on, and left standing in the railway-station. 
As the Doubs was thus crossed at this point, so 
the Vllth Corps forced a passage across the Ognon 
at Marmay and Pin. 

General von Werder had been told off to follow 

BouRBAKi's Movements. 231 

close on the heels of the French retreat, and while 
he held his own in front of the XlVth Corps, 
the 2nd Baden Brigade had advanced on the right 
wing on Etobon, while Colonel von Willisen and 
his twelve squadrons had marched on by Lure. On 
the left, Colonel von Zimmermann with the East- 
Prussian Landwehr had driven the French out of 
Ste.-Marie. These detachments everywhere found 
cast-away arms and portions of equipment, and 
hundreds willingly gave themselves up as prisoners. 

During the next few days General von Werder 
effected a general change of front to the left and 
south. The right wing held Villersexel, and it 
was the left wing only that met the enemy at 
Isle-sur-Doubs, and afterwards in greater num- 
bers, at Clerval and Baume-les-Dames. 

General Bourbaki had quitted the Lisaine on 
the 18th. The XXIVth Corps (French) alone 
were left on the Doubs with orders to defend the 
defiles in the steep mountain-path of Lomont on 
the east of Clerval, towards the north ; all the other 
troops withdrew between the Doubs and the 
Ognon, with Cremer's Division as a rearguard. 
The Ognon might have formed a natural cover for 
the right flank of the French army, and orders had 
been given for the destruction of all the bridges ; 
but we have seen how little they had been obeyed. 

On the 21st the XVth and XXth Corps had 

232 The Franco-German War, 

arrived in the neighbourhood of Baume-les-Dames, 
the XVlIIth at Marchaux ; and here, having Be- 
san9on close in his rear, General Bourbaki was 
anxious to await the next step of the enemy. In 
order to concentrate his forces more completely, 
the commandant of the place was desired to send 
up all the battalions he could spare of the Gardes- 
Mobiles, on Blamont, so as to release the XXIVth 
Corps. Nine battalions of the mobilized National 
Guard had before this reached Besan9on, and might 
have relieved the Corps, but they were armed 
with Enfield rifles, for which there was no ammuni- 
tion in store. Thus they would only have added 
to the mouths to fill, and Greneral RoUand had 
simply sent them back again. The Commissary- 
General declared that it was impossible for him to 
continue any longer to bring up the supplies 
ordered for the maintenance of the army, and 
what proved decisive was the news received this 
day that not only was the line of the Ognon lost, 
but that the Germans had crossed the Doubs. 
Under these circumstances the French Commander- 
in-Chief determined to continue his retreat on 
Besan9on and there cross to the southern bank of 
Doubs, so as not to be compelled to give battle 
with the river in his rear. The train was sent 
off during the night, but above all things the 
XVth Corps was ordered at once to take possession 

BouRBAKi's Movements. 233 

of Quingey, and hold that position to the last man, 
to keep open the communications of the Corps with 
the interior. All the other Corps were to con- 
centrate round Besan9on, even the XXIVth, which 
consequently gave up the Lomont passes. 

General Bourbaki reported his situation to the 
Minister of War, who held out hopes of support 
from that portion of the XVth Corps now remain- 
ing on the Loire. Assistance could have been 
more easily and effectually given from Dijon. 

The Government had concentrated a very con- 
siderable force on that to^vn to replace Cramer s 
Division which had joined the Army of the East, 
and to defend the ancient capital of Burgundy as 
a point-d'appui for the operations of General 
Bourbaki. A Corps of 20,000 men was to hold 
the place ; a very inappropriately-named Army of 
the Vosges, more than 40,000 strong, was to 
manoeuvre in the field. But aU this did little to 
hinder the toilsome advance of the Germans over 
the mountains. The detachments forming a Corps 
of observation allowed themselves to be driven in 
by General von Kettler, who followed the move- 
ments of the Corps on the right flank, and they 
retired on Dijon. 

Colonel Bombonnel, at Gray, urgently but vainly 
begged for assistance to enable him to defend the 
passages of the Saone ; his applications were re- 

234 The Franco-German War. 

fused because Dijon was in too great peril, and it 
was not till the Prussians had already crossed the 
river that Garibaldi began to move. 

He advanced on the 19th in three columns on 
Is-sur-Tille, where only a part of the 4th Infantry 
Division was now left. But he moved forward 
only a mile (German), Garibaldi did no more 
than observe a reconnaissance party which advanced 
to meet him, from the hiU at Messigny, and he 
then retired on Dijon with his troops, to the sound 
of the Marseillaise. 

However, at General von Manteuffel's head- 
quarters, the enemy was held in too small estima- 
tion, when General von Kettler was simply ordered 
to go and " take Dijon." 

The city had been fortified with the greatest care. 
Strong earthworks, and other works of defence 
protected it to the northward ; more especially had 
Talant and Fontaine-les-Dijon been converted into 
two independent forts and armed with heavy guns 
which commanded every approach on that side. 
The whole constituted a position which could be 
held against a much larger force than the five 
and a half battalions of the 8th Brigade with 
which General Kettler advanced to the attack. 

Fighting at Dijon^ January 2\st and 22nd. — 
They had reached Turcey and St.-Seine, and on 
the 21st advanced in two columns from the 

Fighting round Dijon, 235 

west on Dijon, still three miles away fixnn Is- 
sur-Tille on the north ; Major von Conta was 
approaching with a small reinforcement. Some 
companies of volunteers indeed, the " Franctireurs 
de la Mort," the " Compagnie de la Revanche," 
and others, had been driven out of the villages on 
the way without any great difficulty, and beyond 
the deep ravine of the Suzon; the village of 
Plombieres on the right had been defended with 
spirit and stormed, and Daix carried on the left ; 
but in front of the fortified position of the French, 
and under fire of their heavy batteries, the bold 
advance was forced to come to a standstill. Major 
von Conta had also marched on, through continuous 
fighting, but failed to come up with the brigade 
before dark. General von Kettler, recognizing the 
enormous superiority of the French, finally re- 
stricted himself to repulsing their sorties. 

The French had lost seven officers and 430 men 
in prisoners alone ; but the battle had also cost 
the brigade nineteen officers and 322 men. The 
troops had performed a severe march in bad 
weather, along heavy roads, and had no hot food 
either before or after the fight ; and ammunition, too, 
could only be supplied by a column which was 
expected to come up next day. Nevertheless 
General von Kettler did not hesitate to remain for 
the night in the position he had gained, imme* 

236 The Franco-German War. 

diately in front of the enemy, and then to seek 
quarters in the nearest villages. 

The French allowed him to do so without any 
serious opposition. Such complete inactivity made 
General von Kettler suspect that the main body of 
the French had perhaps retired by Auxonne to 
the support of the Army of the East, and he 
determined to bring them back on Dijon by a 
renewed attack. 

On the 23rd at eleven o'clock, by a flank 
march along the enemy's front, after his advanced 
guard had routed a detachment of Gardes-Mobiles, 
he reached the farm of Valmy on the Langres 
road, and advanced on that place with his two 
batteries against the village of PouiUy, which was 
walled and strongly occupied. Here, as was 
almost always the case when they had buildings to 
defend, the French made a stout resistance. The 
61st Regiment had to storm each house in turn, 
and it was not till the chS^teau was in flames that 
the strong party of defenders, who had taken refuge 
in the top storey, surrendered to the Germans. 

Beyond this place the enemy were found 
to have intrenched themselves between Talant, 
which had been regularly fortified, and a large 
factory-building on the high-road. Here the 
German advance was checked till the remainder of 
the regiment came up from Valmy, and the 


defenders were driven in at various points, and 
back on the suburb. 

It was evident that the French were still at 
Dijon in full force ; but now unfortunately a tragic 
episode took place, for the storming of the factory- 
was insisted on — a huge building, almost impreg- 
nable for infantry unaided. When all the senior 
oificers had been killed, a first-lieutenant, whose 
horse had been shot and he himself wounded, took 
the command of the 2nd battalion. No sooner had 
the 5th company, only forty strong, appeared from 
the neighbouring quarry, than they came under a 
hot fire from all sides. Their leader was at once 
woimded, and the sergeant who carried the colours 
fell dead after a few steps ; so did the second- 
lieutenant and the , battalion adjutant, who again 
raised the standard. It was passed from hand to 
hand, first to the officers then to the men ; every 
bearer fell. The brave Pomeranians nevertheless 
rushed on the building, but there was no entrance 
on that side, and at last the under-officer retreated 
on the quarries with the remnant of the little band. 
Here, for the first time, the colours were missed. 
Of their own accord they went out again in the 
darkness to seek them, but only one man returned 
unwounded. It was not till afterwards that they 
were foimd by the French, shot to ribbons, in a pool 
of blood, xmder the dead. 

238 The Franco-German War. 

These were the only German colours lost through- 
out the war, and only thus were these lost. 

Of the French, eight officers and 150 men were 
taken prisoners, and the brigade had again lost 
sixteen officers and 362 men. It mustered at 
Pouilly, and remained under arms till eight o'clock 
to be prepared for possible pursuit ; then quarters 
were found in the neighbouring villages. 

The Movements of the Army of the South. — 
The order to take Dijon could not be executed ; 
but the bold advance of this small brigade had 
reduced the hostile army to inactivity, so that 
General von Manteuffel could advance unopposed. 

His intention was to reach the enemy's line of 
retreat to the south of Besan9on. 

There were but few roads to the south of France 
available for troops, through the ravined and 
terraced hills of the western Jura. The most direct 
connection was by the road and railway to Lous-le- 
Saulnier, on which Quingey and Byans were 
important points to guard. Further to the east, by 
a wide detour, a road runs by Omans, Salins and 
Champagnole to St. Laurent and Morezi 

On the other hand, several ways centre in Pon- 
tarlier, traversing the rocky passes, peculiar to 
that fomxation, known locally as Cluses ; they are 
breaches in the long ridge connecting the lateral 
valleys. From Pontarlier one road only runs past 

Fighting on the Doubs. 239 

Mouthe, and in suspicious proximity to the Swiss 

January 22nd. — On this day the advanced 
guard of the 13th Division marched from Audeux 
to St.-Vit, and, after breaking up the railway and 
plundering several loaded waggons, down the river 
on Dampierre, On their way four bridges over 
the Doubs were found uninjured and were occu- 
pied. The advanced guard of the 14th Division 
advanced from Emagny to observe Besan9on. The 
Ilnd Corps, diverging on Dole, sent reconnoitring 
parties out beyond the river. 

January 23ri. — The concentric movement of all 
the contingents of the German army, was con- 

General Debschitz, approaching from the north, 
in passing Roches found only the abandoned camp- 
ing place of the XXIVth French Corps. The 4th 
Reserve Division occupied L'Isle without opposi- 
tion, and met no resistance till it reached Clerval 
and Baume. 

On the Ognon the Baden Division drove the 
French out of Montbazon. 

In the centre of the army the Vllth Corps pushed 
the advanced guard of the 14th Division forward on 
Dannemarie, near Besan9on. A fight ensued which 
resulted only in a cannonade, lasting till night. 
The 13th Division, on the contrary, which had 

240 The Franco-German War. 

crossed the Doubs at Dampierre, advanced on 

Only one French brigade had been able to come 
up by railway for want of rolling-stock, and the 
last trains were received at the Byans station with 
Prussian shell. These troops were in such evil 
plight that they were unable even to place outposts. 
They abandoned Quingey almost without a struggle, 
and their retreat, almost a flight, on Besan9on and 
beyond the Loue, stopped the advance of reinforce- 
ments already on the way. Thus 800 prisoners and 
a train of 400 convalescents fell into the hands of 
the Prussian advanced guard, who at once broke up 
the railway at Abbans-dessous. 

On the right wing, the head of the Ilnd Corps 
had advanced in the valley of the Loue on the 
southern bank. Various cuttings on this road had 
been prepared for defence, but were undefended. 
It was not till it reached Villers-Farlay that it met 
a strong detachment of the enemy. 

On the evening of this day, of the French forces 
the XXth Corps was on the north of Besan9on and 
the XVIIIth on the west, at the distance of about a 
German mile. Cavalry, artillery and the train were 
passing through the town or encamped on the 
glacis of the fortress. The XXIVth Corps was on 
the march hither, and the 2nd and 3rd Divisions 
of the XVth were in possession of the southern 

A Council of War. 241 

bank of the Doubs at Bauine and Lamod ; but the 
1st Division had not succeeded in holding Quingey. 
Thus the most direct and important line of com- 
munications of the army was cut, and its position, 
by this fresh disaster, seriously aggravated. Pro- 
jects and counsels from Bordeaux, on which it was 
impossible to act, abounded, but did not mend 
matters ; and on the 24th General Bourbaki 
summoned the superior officers to a council of war. 

January 2Uh. — ^The Generals declared that they 
had scarcely half their number of men under arms, 
and these were more inclined to fly than to fight. 
General Pallu alone thought he might answer for 
the men of the army reserve. The Commissary- 
General reported that, unless they could seize the 
stores in the place, the supplies in hand would last 
for four days at most. Greneral Billot was in 
favour of attempting to fight a way through to 
Auxonne, but he declined to take the command in 
chief, which was offered him. The exhaustion of the 
troops and their insubordination, which was evi- 
dently increasing, gave little hope of the success of 
offensive operations. So there was no alternative 
but to retire on Pontarlier, as the Commander- 
in-chief had proposed. 

This, even, was seriously threatened. To clear 
the country to the northward. General Bourbaki 
ordered the XXIVth Corps to advance once more 

VOL. !!• R 

242 The Franco-German War. 

and hold the passes of the Lomont. On the south 
the XVth was to defend the deep mountain ravine 
of the Loue, and General Cramer was more espe- 
cially to cover the retreat of the army on the 
right flank, which was most threatened. For this 
difficult task a division of the XXth Corps was 
placed under his conamand, as well as his own force, 
and the army reserve, as the most trustworthy of 
the troops. The XVIIIth and the remainder of the 
XXth were to await marching-orders at Besan9on. 

At the German head-quarters, where of course 
the plans of the French could not be known, various 
contingencies had to be reckoned on. 

If the French remained at Besan9on there would 
be no need to attack them there ; the plax;e was not 
adapted for a large army, and its supplies could 
not hold out long. That they would again attempt 
to advance northwards was scarcely likely ; they 
would be leaving all their resources in their rear, 
and must encounter the larger part of the XVth 
Corps (German) on the banks of the Ognon. 

An attempt to cut a way past Dijon seemed on 
the whole more probable. But this would be 
opposed at St.-Vit by the 13th Division, atPesmes 
by Colonel von WiUisen's detachment, and finally 
by General von Kettler. 

Thus the retreat on Pontarlier seemed the most 
likely course ; and to hinder their advance on that 

French Retreat on Pontarlier, 243 

side must be the duty of the Ilnd Corps, so long as 
the Vllth was employed in observing the main 
body of the French collected at Besan9on, and in 
checking their sorties on both sides of the river. 

The Commander-in-Chief therefore confined him- 
self to giving general instructions to the superior 
officers, expressly authorizing them to act on their 
own judgment under such circumstances as could 
not be foreseen. 

Greneral von Werder was ordered to advance by 
Mamay and obtain touch with the Baden Division 
and Von der Goltz's Brigade, and distribute 
them in the first instance along the right bank of 
the Doubs. The 4th Reserve Division was to restore 
the bridges at L'Isle and Baume, and cross over 
to the left bank. Colonel von Willisen joined the 
Vllth Corps to supply the lack of cavalry. The 
Ilnd Corps was assembled behind Villers-Farlay. 

January 25th. — ^Extensive reconnaissances were 
arranged for next day. That of the Vllth Corps 
resulted in a sharp skirmish at Vorges. The head 
of the Ilnd Corps met the French at Salins and at 
Arbois, but found that they had not yet reached 

January 2Qth. — The advanced guard of the 
Ilnd Corps marched on Salins. The forts of St.- 
Andr^ and BeKn, on high ground near that town, 
fronted on Switzerland, but they also commanded 

R 2 

244 The Franco-German War. 

the plain to the south and west in the enemy's line 
of march. Salins is a strong key commanding the 
road to St.-Laurent, and as long as it could be 
held would at the same time secure the retreat 
of the columns marching from Besan9on on Pont- 

The two field-batteries of the advanced guard 
could, of course, do little against the heavy guns 
of the forts ; but the Fusiliers of the 2nd Eegi- 
ment advanced in rushes of small detachments up 
the narrow ravine, scaled the steep walls on that 
side, and, supported by the two battalions of 
Grenadiers, forced their way, by about half-past 
two, into the railway-station and suburb of St.- 
Pierre. They lost 3 officers and 109 men. 

Soon after this General von Koblinski arrived, 
vid St.-Thi^baud, with the 42nd Regiment. As, 
in consequence of the representations of the MairCj 
the commandant had abandoned the idea of bom- 
barding the town, the advanced guard could take 
up its quarters there ; the main body of the 3rd 
Division retreated from under the fire of the forts 
onMonchard, and the defile was closed against all- 
comers. It would have to be turned on the south. 

On that side the 4th Division already occupied 
Arbois, its head marching on Pont-d'H6ry; it 
found Poligny and Champagnole on the right 
still unoccupied. 

French Retreat on Pontarlier. 245 

The Vllth Corps had reconnoitred both banks of 
the Doubs, and had found the enemy in strong 
positions at Busy and at Vorges. 

The 4th Reserve Division advanced along the 
southern bank as far as St.- Juan-d' Adam, ' near 
Besan9on; the remainder of the XlVth Corps 
marched on Etuz and Mamay. 

General von Kettler s report of the fighting on the 
21st and 23rd determined General von Manteuffel 
to make a renewed attempt on Dijon. He detailed 
General Hann von Weyhem to this duty, placing 
him in command of the 8th Brigade, with Colonel 
von Willisen's troops and Degenfeld's Baden 

On the French side, General Bressolles had 
started on the 24th, in obedience to orders, to take 
possession of the passages of the Doubs and the 
defiles of Lomont. At first, with d' Aries' Division, 
he had marched on Baume ; but as d' Aries could 
not succeed even in driving in the German out- 
posts from Pont-les-Moulins, he retired on VerceL 
In consequence of this, on the morning of the 26th, 
Carry's Division, which had found the defiles of 
the Lomont unoccupied, also retired on Pierre- 
Fontaine. Comagny's Division had already re- 
treated on Morteau, and was quietly making its 
way on Pontarlier. 

General Bourbaki was greatly disturbed by this 

246 The Franco-German War. 

failure of his right wing ; more than was needful, 
perhaps, since, in fact, only one German division 
stood to the north of him, which at most could 
drive his rearguard back on Pontarlier, while the 
main force of the enemy threatened him far more 
seriously on the west. He nevertheless ordered a 
renewed advance, on the 26th, of the XXIVth Corps, 
which was now to be supported by the XVIIIth. 
But the march through Besan9on of the XVIIIth 
Corps alone, over streets covered with ice, took 
up the whole of the day which should have been 
devoted to the attack, so that nothing came of the 

The Army Reserve had reached Omans, and 
had formed up. The two other divisions ad- 
vanced on the road to Salins, but heard, while on 
the march, that the Germans had just carried that 
place. They therefore occupied D^servillers and 
Villeneuve-d'Amont, to keep open the roads from 
thence to Pontarlier. 

The War Minister, meanwhile, had emphatically 
refused his consent to the general retreat of the 
army, without any regard to the imperative 
necessities of the case. 

The military dilettanteism which fancied it could 
control the army from Bordeaux is characteristi- 
cally expressed in a telegram of the afternoon of 
the 25th. Monsieur de Freycinet gives it as his 

French Retreat on Pontarlier. 247 

" firm conviction " ^ that if General Bourbaki 
would collect his troops, and, if necessary, come to 
an understanding with Garibaldi, he would be 
strong enough to fight his way out, either by Dole, 
or by Monchard, or by Gray, or by Pontarlier (north 
of Auxonne). The choice was left to him. 

Still more amazing was the suggestion that if, 
indeed, the state of the troops prohibited a long 
march, they should take the railway from Chagey, 
under the eye, no doubt, of the pursuing enemy. 

But such communications could only avail to 
shake the brave commander s self-confidence. The 
disastrous reports which poured in from all sides, 
and the state of the troops, which he had seen for 
himself as the XVIIIth Corps marched through 
the town, crushed his last hope and led him to 
attempt his own life. 

The Commander-in-Chief had of course to bear 
the blame of the total failure of a campaign planned 
by Freycinet ; his dismissal from the command 
was already on its way. General Clinchant was 
appointed in his stead, and under these disastrous 
circumstances took the command of the army. 

AU the Generals were, no doubt, most anxious 

to avoid bringing their weary and dispirited troops 

face to face with the enemy. Every line of retreat 

was closed, excepting only that on Pontarlier. 

^ Coii7iction bien Bxi^t6o. 


248 The Franco-German War. 

The new Commander-in-Chief had no choice but to 
carry out the plans of his predecessor. He at once 
ordered the further march. He himself proceeded 
to Pontarlier. In that strong position he hoped 
to be able at least to give the troops a short rest. 
No large body of the Germans had been met with 
so far, the ammunition columns had got safely 
through, and if they could but reach the defiles of 
Vaux, Les-Planches and St.-Laurent before the 
enemy, and hold them, there was still a possibility 
of escape to the southwards. 

On the evening of the 27th, Poullet's Division 
was at Levier, nearest to the Grermans, the two 
other Divisions under General Cramer, with the 
XVth and XXth Corps, were ^chelonned on the 
road between Omans and Sombacourt ; the 
XVnith Corps was alone on the eastern road by 
Nods. The XXIVth, in a miserable condition, ex- 
tended to Montbenoit, with its head at Pontarlier ; 
two Divisions were still in Besan9on. 

On this day General von Fransecky collected the 
main body of the Ilnd Corps at Arbois, and 
reinforced General du Trossels lines at Pont d'H6ry. 

The XlVth Corps relieved the 14th Division of 
the Vllth Corps at St.-Vit ; this advanced to the 
right of the 13th Division into the ravine of the 
Loue, which the French had already abandoned. 

On the north, General von Debschitz held Blamont 

French Retreat on Pontarlier. 249 

and Pont-du-Roide, while General von Schmeling 
kept watch on Besan9on from St.-Juan, and 
General von der Golfcz marched on Arbois to form 
a reserve. 

January 28fA. — Suspecting that the French 
were already on the march by Champagnole on St.- 
Laurent, General Fransecky, to cut off that line 
of retreat, advanced on the following day in a 
southerly direction with the Ilnd Corps. 

General du Trossel reached Champagnole with- 
out opposition, and sent his cavalry down 
the road on Pontarlier. Lieutenant-Colonel von 
Guretzky arrived at Nozeroy with a squadron of 
the 11th Dragoons, and found the place occupied ; 
but he seized fifty-six commissariat-waggons, and 
stole the field treasure-chest, taking the escort 

The 5th and 6th Brigades advanced on Poligny 
and Pont-du-Navoy. 

The 13th Division of the Vllth Corps, being 
relieved at Quingey by the Baden troops, assembled 
at La-ChapeUe, while the 14th advanced on D^ser- 
viUers. Its head, at Bolandoz, did not meet the 
enemy, but found his camp-fires still smouldering, 
so that the main body of the French was not over- 
taken that day. 

General Clinchant had in fact moved his Corps 
closer on Pontarlier. But it soon became evident 

250 The Franco-German War. 

that supplies could not be counted on for any long 
stay. General Cramer received orders that night 
to advance at once on Les Planches and St.- 
Laurent with three cavalry regiments, already on 
the road to Mouthe. The mountain-roads were 
deep in snow, but he reached the points designated, 
by a forced march, by the next afternoon. The 
XXIVth Corps and a brigade of Poullet's Division 
followed next day, this last placing two battalions 
to occupy Bonnevaux at the entrance to the defile 
of Vaux. On the evening of the 28th the rest of 
the French army was distributed as follows : the 
XVIIIth Corps was behind the Drugeon at Hou- 
taud close before Pontarlier ; the 1st Division of 
the XVth had advanced to Sombacourt, beyond 
the stream, the 3rd Division was in the town. On 
the left the 2nd and 3rd Divisions of the XXth 
Corps held the villages from Chaifois to Frasne, and 
on the right the army reserve occupied Byans. 

Greneral von ManteufFel had ordered a general 
advance for the 29th on Pontarlier, where the French 
at last must certainly be found. 

January 29th. — General Koblinsky of the Ilnd 
Corps, had set out from Poligny before daylight. 
When he reached Champagnole and had assembled 
the whole of the 5th Brigade he advanced at about 
seven o'clock. General du Trossel with the 7th 
Brigade reached Censeau without finding the enemy. 

French Retreat on Pontarlier, 251 

On the right Colonel von WedeU had marched 
from Pont-du-Navoy on Les-Planches with four 
battalions of the 6th Brigade, He found only 
dismounted troopers, posts probably left by 
General von Cramer, who were easily dispersed by 
the Jagers. Detachments were then sent out on 
aU sides, and everywhere met with scattered troops ; 
but at Foncine-le-Bas the head of the XXIVth 
Corps was found, and Colonel von Wedell now cut 
off their line of retreat, the last that had been left 

With the rest of the Ilnd Corps General von 
Hartmann marched unopposed on Nozeroy, 

The 14th Division of the Vllth Corps had not 
received the order to advance on Pontarlier till 
somewhat late ; it did not start from D^servillers 
till the afternoon, and only reached Levier at three 
o'clock, where, at the same hour, the head of the 
13th Division also arrived from Villeneuve- 
d'Amont, the state of the roads having greatly 
delayed them on the march. 

The advanced guard of three battalions, half a 
squadron, and one battery, had met only stragglers 
on their way, and General von Zastrow commanded 
them to advance on the Drugeon. Through the 
woods on the left of the road compact detachments 
of the French were retiring on Sombacourt, and 
Major von Brederlow, with the 1st battalion of the 

252 The Franco-German War. 

77th Regiment, made a flank movement on that 
village. The 2n(l company, under Captain von 
Vietinghof, made its way in by Sept-Fontames witJi 
loud cheers, and was at first surrounded by a 
strong force of the enemy ; however, the other 
companies soon came to. its assistance. The 1st 
Division of the XVth Corps (French) was com- 
pletely routed without the reserve close at hand 
in Byans having come to its support. Fifty officers, 
including two generals, were taken prisoners with 
2700 men ; ten guns, seven mitrailleuses, forty- 
eight waggons, 319 horses and 3500 stand of arms 
fell into the hands of the Hanoverian battaUon 
which was left in occupation of Sombacourt. 

The remainder of the advanced guard had mean- 
while advanced on ChafFois, where the road opens 
out from the mountain gorge into the broad valley 
of the Drugeon. The place was occupied, as we 
have seen, by the 2nd Division of the XXth Corps 

Colonel von Cosel attacked at once. Three com- 
panies of the 53rd Regiment surprised the French 
picquet and seized the first houses in the village, 
but then the mass of the French XVIIIth Corps 
stopped their further advance. By degrees all the 
forces at hand became engaged, as weU as the rein- 
forcements brought up from the main body of the 
14th Division. ITie fight had lasted with great 

News of the Armistice. 253 

obstinacy for an hour and a half, when suddenly 
the French ceased firing and laid down their arms. 
They appealed to the armistice already agreed 

Monsieur Jules Favre had, in fact, telegraphed 
to Bordeaux at a quarter-past eleven on the night 
of the 28th, that an armistice of twenty-one days 
had been concluded, without adding that, with his 
consent, the three eastern departments had been 
excepted from it. The information, in this im- 
perfect form, was transmitted to the civil authori- 
ties by the Chambers at 12.15 at noon of the 29th ; 
but Monsieur Freycinet did not forward it to the 
military authorities, whoin it principally concerned, 
tiU 3.30 in the afternoon. 

Thus could General Clinchant, in all good faith, 
transmit to General Thornton, in command of the 
Division at ChaflFois, a message which, as regarded 
the Army of the East, was altogether incorrect. 
He at once sent a staif officer to the Prussian 
advanced guard, who were stiU firing, requiring 
them to cease on the strength of the official 

General von Manteuffel, at Arbois, had received, 
at five in the morning, fuU particulars from head- 
quarters of ihe terms of the armistice, by which the 
army in the south was to continue operations till 
further orders. General orders announcing this to 

254 The Franco-German War. 

all the troops were at once sent out, but did not 
reach the Vllth Corps till evening. 

Nothing was known there of any armistice ; 
however, the news might be on the way, and 
General von Zastrow granted the temporary cessa- 
tion of hostilities and even released his prisoners, 
but without their arms. 

Chaffois, with the exception of a few farmsteads, 
remained in the hands of the 14th Division 
(Grerman), who found such quarters there as they 
might ; the 13th retired to the villages from Sept- 
Fontaines to D6servillers. 

January ZOth. — In full confidence in the news 
from the seat of government, General Clinchant, 
on the 30th, stopped the retreat of his army. The 
newly-appointed Commander of the XXIVth 
Corps, General Comagny, also gave up his intended 
attempt to cut his way with 10,000 men through 
Colonel von Wedell's small brigade at Foncine. 
The other Corps remained, after the unfortunate 
issue of the evening s fight, close pressed at Pont- 
arlier ; but detachments of troopers were sent out 
one by one on the roads to Besan9on and St.- 
Laurent, to establish a line of demarcation and 
also to keep up communications with the fortress 
and with the south. 

After receiving the general orders at about 
eleven at night, General Zastrow informed the 

A Misapprehension. 255 

French in his front of the resumption of hostilities, 
but restricted his immediate demands to the com- 
plete evacuation of ChaflFois, which was agreed to. 
Otherwise the Corps remained where it was, and 

Greneral du Trossel, of the Ilnd Corps, had set 
out very early from Censeau, but the appearance 
of a French flag of truce, and his fear of offending 
against the law of nations, here too occasioned 
considerable delay. The woods of Frasne were not 
clear of the French till evening. Lieutenant- 
Colonel von Gruretzky made his way into the village 
with quite a small force, and took the twelve officers 
and 1500 men who held it prisoners, with two 
colours. The 5th Brigade then also arrived at 
Frasne ; the rest of the Corps occupied the same 
quarters as on the previous day. 

A flag of truce had also been sent to Les- 
Planches, but Colonel von Wedell had simply 
dismissed the bearer. The outposts of the XlVth 
Corps did the same. 

On the north of Pontarlier, General von Schmeling 
advanced on Pierre-Fontaine, General von Debs- 
chitz on Maiche. 

Jarmary 31s<. — On the morning of this day the 
French Colonel Varaigne made his appearance at 
General von Manteuffel's head-quarters at Ville- 
neuve to propose that a cessation of hostilities for 

256 The Franco-German War. 

thirty-six hours should be agreed upon, till all 
doubts could be removed ; but this was refused, as 
the German General had no doubts whatever. 
Permission was granted for a direct application to 
Versailles, but it was at the same time explained 
that the movements of the Army of the South would 
not be suspended till the arrival of the answer. 

On this day, however, the Ilnd Army Corps 
marched only on Dompierre on a line with the 
Vllth, its advanced guard pushing forward to the 
Drugeon on Ste.-Colombe and La-Riviere. Thence, 
in the evening, a company of Colberg's Grenadiers 
crossed the steep moxmtain ridge and descended on 
La Plan^e, where it took 500 prisoners. On the right 
a flanking detachment of two battalions and one 
battery under Lieutenant-Colonel Liebe marched 
unopposed up the gorge from Bonnevaux to Vaux, 
taking 2 officers and 688 men prisoners. The 
French then abandoned the defile of Granges-Ste.- 
Marie and retired on St.-Antoine in the mountains. 

The Corps had found every road strewn with 
cast-away arms and camp utensils, and had captured 
4000 men in all. 

As soon as the enemy had been informed that 
hostilities were resumed, the 14th Division of the 
Vllth Corps extended on the left along the 
Drugeon as far as La-Vrine, whence a connection 
was eflfected with the 4th Reserve Division of the 

Negotiations with Switzerland. 257 

XlVth Corps at St.-Gorgon, The 13th Division 
advanced on Sept-Fontaines. PontarUer was now 
completely surrounded, and General von Manteuffel 
had fixed February 1st for the attack. The Ilnd 
Corps was to advance from the south-west, 
the Vllth from the north-west ; General von 
der Goltz was to remain at Le\der with a reserve 

Meanwhile the French Commander-in-Chief had 
conceived doubts as to whether the communications 
from Government were perfectly correct. The 
passes over the mountains to the south were now 
lost, and an escape in that direction was no longer 
to be hoped for. General Clinchant had already 
sent back the baggage and ammunition columns, the 
sick and the exhausted, through La-Cluse under 
shelter of the forts of Joux and Neuv. And when 
in the afternoon a message from Bordeaux 
announced that in fact the Army of the East had 
been excluded from the armistice, the Commander- 
in-Chief called a council of war. Every General 
present declared that he could no longer answer 
for his troops. He himsdlf therefore went out 
the same evening to Les-Verrieres, to conclude 
negotiations he had already opened, by which on 
the following day, February 1st, the army was 
to cross the frontier into Switzerland by three 
separate roads. 

VOL. II. s 

258 The Franco-German War. 

To cover this retreat, the Army Resen^e was to 
hold Pontarlier till all the baggage-trains had crossed 
the ridge at LarCluse, and the XVIIIth Corps was 
to occupy a position between the two forts. 
Fortifications were at once begun. So much of 
the XVth Corps as had failed to get beyond Morez 
with the cavalry was to try to cross into Switzer- 
land at any available point. 

Fehruary 1st. — ^\Tien the advanced guard of the 
Ilnd Corps (German) marched on Pontarlier from 
Ste.-Colombe it met with but slight resistance at 
the railway station. Colberg's Grenadiers took 
possession of the town without a struggle, took 
many prisoners, and then found the roads beyond 
entirely blocked by guns and waggons. 

They were toiling along with great difficulty 
through deep snow. Just in front of La-Cluse the 
road winds up between high walls of rock to a 
large cirque formed by the Doubs, which is com- 
pletely commanded by the fortified castle of Joux 
on an isolated knoU of rock. On debouching into 
this valley the foremost companies were received 
by a hot fire. Four guns, dragged up with the 
greatest difficulty, could do nothing against the 
heavy guns of the fort, so the French themselves 

Colberg's Fusiliers had meanwhile scaled the 
heights to the left, followed by the 2nd Battalino 

Fight at La-Cluse. 259 

of the Regiment and a battalion of the 49 th, who 
drove the French out of the farmsteads and rifts on 
the plateau. The steep cliff on the right was 
also scaled, several files of the 49th Regiment 
clambered down the slopes above La^Cluse, and 
Colberg s Grenadiers advanced to the foot of Fort 

To take the castle by storm was obviously im- 
possible, and the nature of the country is such as 
almost to prohibit the escape of a defeated enemy. 
Of the French, twenty-three officers and 1600 men 
were taken, and 400 loaded waggons; of the 
Germans, nineteen officers and 365 men were killed, 
mostly of Colberg's Regiment. The troops spent 
the night on the field. 

As no large force could be brought into action 
at La-Cluse, General von Fransecky had ordered 
the main body of the Obrps to march to the south 
on Ste.-Marie. To avoid the necessity of crossing 
the chain of the Jura, General von Hartmann 
marched first on Pontarlier to avail himself of the 
better roads from thence, but there he was de- 
tained, the fight at La-Cluse having assumed 
unexpected proportions. The Vllth Corps and 
the 4th Reserve Division also, which had reached 
the Doubs at noon, were equally unable to get at 
the enemy. 

During the whole day the French columns were 
s 2 

26o The Franco-German War. 

crossing the Swiss frontier. The Army Reserve 
in Pontarlier was from the beginning carried away 
by the tide of baggage-waggons and drivers, and 
only joined the XVIIIth Corps on reaching La- 
Cluse. During the night they both followed in 
the general line of retreat. Only the cavalry and 
a few hundred men of the 1st Division of the 
XXIVth Corps reached the department of I'Ain, 
the next to the south ; 80,000 French crossed on to 
Swiss soil. 

General Manteuffel had transferred his head- 
quarters to Pontarlier. Only then, and not till 
night, did he hear from Berlin of the agreement 
between General Clinchant and the Swiss Colonel 

General von Manteuffel had achieved the impor- 
tant success of his three weeks' campaign through a 
succession of fights, but without a pitched battle 
since quitting the Lisaine, simply by marches; 
such marches, indeed, as none but well-seasoned 
troops could have accomplished under bold and 
skilful leadership, under every form of fatigue 
and hardship, in the worst season and through a 
diflBicult country. 

Thus two French armies were now prisoners in 
Germany, a third interned in the capital, and the 
fourth disarmed on foreign soil. 


General Hann von Weyhern's March on Dijon. 

It only remains to glance back on the advance 
on Dijon which had been entrusted to the com- 
mand of General Hann von Weyhem on January 

On that same day Gtiribaldi was appealed to, 
to take some energetic measure against D61e and 

To support him, the Government, indefatigable in 
the evolution of new forces, were to send 15,000 
Gardes-Mobiles under General Crouzat from Lyons 
to Lons-le-Saulnier, and a XXVIth Corps in course 
of formation at Chdtellerault was to be detached to 
Beaune. As it was beyond doubt that General 
von Manteuffel had marched with a strong force to 
cut off the communications of the Army of the 
East, an order was transmitted on the 27th to the 
Commander of the forces in the Vosges, to leave 
only from 8000 to 10,000 men in Dijon and to 
advance at once with the main body beyond D61e. 

But the General was anxious for Dijon; he 
occupied the principal positions on the slopes of the 
C6te-d'0r and detached a small force to St.- Jean-de- 
Losne, behind the Canal-de-Bourgogne. Nothing 
had as yet been seen of 700 volunteers who had 
marched on Dole. 

Langres had shown a little more energy, several 

262 The Franco-German War. 

and often successful sorties of small outpost com- 
panies and depot troops had been led out finom 
time to time. 

General Hann von Weyhem's purpose of attack- 
ing Dijon from the south had to be abandoned, 
because the bridge over the Saone at St.-Jean-de- 
Losne had been destroyed. He therefore on the 
29th crossed the' river at Apremont, and on the 
31st assembled his detachment at Arc-sur-Tille. 
Here again General Bordone, the Chief of the 
general staff of the Army of the Vosges, vainlj- 
a'ppealed to the supposed armistice. On the 31st 
General von Kettler marched as an advanced 
guard on Varois. To cut off the enemy's com- 
munications with Auxonne a detachment on the 
left held the bridge over the Ouche at Fauvemey. 
The first shells drove the French back on their 
intrenched position between St.-Apollinaire and 

When the attempt to bring about an armistice 
had failed, General Bordone determined to evacu- 
ate Dijon in the course of the night and retire 
on to really neutral ground. Thus, on February 
1st, the head of the advanced guard found the out- 
works abandoned, and General von Kettler marched 
in without any opposition, just as the last train of 
French troops moved out of the railway-station. 
Sombemon and Nuits were also occupied on the 2nd. 


Occupation of the Departments op the Doubs, 
Jura, and Cote-d'Or. 

Nothing now remained for General von Man- 
teuffel but to effect a military occupation of the 
Departments he had invaded, and to protect them 
from withoui;. 

General Pelissier was still within their limits, 
having reached Lons-le-Saulnier from Lyons with 
the 15,000 Gardes-Mobiles joined by the battalions 
sent back from Besan9on by General Rolland, 
numerically a by no means insignificant force, but 
of no great practical use. The commanders were 
recommended to retire and avoid further blood- 
shed ; and they did so, as soon as some detach- 
ments of the Ilnd Corps (German) advanced on 
Lons-le-Saulnier and St.-Laurent. Others occu- 
pied Mouthe and Les-Allemands, where twenty- 
eight guns had been abandoned by the French. 
The Swiss frontier was watched by eight battalions 
for security. The forts of Salins, the little fortress 
of Auxonne, and Besan9on from the east side, were 
kept under obsenation. 

Although the Department of Haute-Mame was 
included in the armistice, the commandant of 
Langi'es had refused to recognize the authority of 
the Government. So this place had to be invested, 
and perhaps besieged. General von der Goltz was 

264 The Franco-German War. 

first ordered to march on it, and General von 
Erenski was already advancing with seven bat- 
talions, two squadrons and two batteries, with a 
siege train from Longwy, which he had reduced 
to capitulation on January 25th, after a bombard- 
ment of six days' duration. But it was not called 
into requisition at Langres. 

General von Manteuflfel aimed at no further 
tactical results ; he was anxious to save his troops 
from further losses, and to afford them all possible 
respite after their unusual exertions. Not till 
now was the baggage brought up, even that of 
the staff oflBicers having been necessarily left 
behind during the advance through the Jura. 
The troops were distributed for the sake of com- 
fort in roomy quarters, but in readiness for action 
at any moment, the Ilnd Corps in Jura, the 
Vllth in Cote-d'Or, the XlVth in Doubs. But 
the siege of Belfort was to be stringently carried 

The Siege op Belfort. 

Immediately after the battle on the Lisaine the 
forces investing Belfort were increased to 27 
battalions, 6 squadrons, 6 field batteries, 24 com- 
panies of garrison artillery, and 6 companies of 
Sappers and Miners ; in all 17,602 infantry, 4699 

Siege of Belfort. 265 

artillery, and 1166 engineers = 23,467 men, with 
707 horses and 34 field-guns. 

While the town was invested on the north 
and west by only a few battalions, the main force 
was assembled to the south and east. 

On January 20th the batteries on the east 
opened a hot fire on P^rouse. Colonel Denfert 
inferred that an attack was inuninent, and put 
four battalions of his most trusted troops into 
the village, which was fortified for an obstinate 

At about midnight, two battalions of the 67th 
Regiment advanced from Chevremont without 
firing a shot on the Haut-Taillis wood. Only 
inside it there was a determined struggle, but 
the French were driven back on the village, and 
the sappers immediately intrenched the skirt of 
the wood towards P(5rouse under a heavy fire 
from the fort. 

Half an hour later two Landwehr battalions 
advanced from Bessoncourt to the copse on the 
north of the village. They were received with a 
sharp fire, but made their way onward over 
abattis, pits and ^vire-entanglements, driving the 
enemy back into the quarries. 

A brisk fire was now opened on both sides, but 
the 67th presently renewed the attack, and without 
allowing themselves to be checked at the earth- 

266 The Franco-German War. 

works forced their way into Perouse. They took 
possession of the eastern end of the straggling 
village at about half-past two, and the party 
defending the quarries, finding themselves threat- 
ened, retreated. At five o'clock, Colonel Denfert 
surrendered the western part of the position, 
which was now occupied by the Germans. 

They had lost eight officers and 178 men ; the 
French left five officers and ninety-three men 

January 21s< to 21th. — ^The next day the first 
parallel was thrown up along a front of 1800 
metres from Donjoutin to Haut-Taillis. Five 
battalions and two companies of Sappers were 
engaged in this work, and undisturbed by the 
French; but the rocky soil prohibited its being 
constructed of the usual width. 

General von Tresckow already believed that he 
might proceed to storm the two forts of Perches. 
Two half-closed redoubts with perpendicular ditches 
cut three metres deep out of the rock, casemated 
traverses and bomb-proof block-houses in the 
gorge, insured protection for the defenders. They 
were armed ^vith seven 12-cm. guns in each. The 
works were connected by trenches, behind which 
a reserve force was in readiness. 

On the right flank this position was protected by 
a battalion and counter-batteries in Le-Foumeau ; 

Siege of Belfort. 267 

on the left the wood, which was not more than 
600 paces distant, was cleared, and wire-entan- 
glements between the stimaps formed an almost 
impenetrable obstacle. In front the gentle slope 
of the hill was under the cross-fire of the two 

As soon as the construction of the parallel was 
suflBiciently advanced, on the evening of the 26th, to 
allow of its being occupied by larger detachments, 
the storming was begun. Two columns of one bat- 
talion, one company of Sappers, and two guns, pro- 
ceeded to the attack at daybreak on January 27th. 
Two companies of Schneidemiihrs Landwehr Bat- 
talion advanced on the front of Basses-Perches and 
threw themselves on the ground within sixty to 
100 metres in front of the works. A party of 
sharp-shooters and a few sappers got to the ditch 
and unhesitatingly leaped in ; the two other com- 
panies, going round the fort to the left, had 
reached the rear, and here too the men jumped 
into the ditch of the gorge. But the French, who 
had been driven out of their shelter-trenches, had 
now re-assembled, and the battalion advanced from 
Le-Foumeau. All the forts of the place opened 
iire on the clear and unprotected space in front of 
the parallel, and an attempt to cross it on the 
part of the reserve force failed. The 7th Company 
of the Landwehr Battalion were suiTounded by 

268 The Franco-German War. 

superior numbers, and after a brave struggle were 
for the most part taken prisoners. Most of the 
men in the ditch were still able to escape. 

The advance of the right column against Hautes- 
Perches also failed. It had to cross 1000 metres 
of open ground. An attempt to surround the 
fort did not succeed ; it was impossible to get 
through the abattis and other obstacles under the 
fire of the French. 

This disastrous attempt to storm the place cost 
10 officers and 427 men ; the slower engineering 
operations had to be resumed. 

January 2%th and February Ihth. — As the 
Germans got nearer to the forts the flying sap 
could be carried forward about 300 metres every 
night without any opposition from the enemy. 
In spite of aU the difficulties caused by the nature 
of the soil, by February 1st the second parallel 
had been advanced half-way to the forts of Les 

As the Fort-de-la-Justice was a particular 
hindrance to the works, two batteries had to be 
constructed to the east of P^rouse to bear upon it. 
Four mortar-batteries on the flank of the parallel 
could now fire on Haute and Basse-Perches at very 
short range. Three batteries were also placed in the 
Bois-des-Perches to attack the castle, and one on the 
skirt of the wood by Bavilliers against the main 

Siege of Belfort. 269 

work. Henceforward 1500 shells a day were fired 
on the fortress and outworks. 

But the progress of the attack became more 
and more difficult. General Debschitz, by re- 
tiring, had seriously reduced the working strength 
of the besieging force. The loss in sappers was 
particularly serious, and two new companies had 
to be brought up from Strasburg. The bright 
moonlight lighting up the sheets of snow far and 
wide made it impossible to proceed with the flying 
saps. Sap-roUers were called into requisition ; 
the heads of the saps had to be protected by sand- 
bags and the sides by gabions, while the earth 
for filling had often to be brought from a long 
distance in the rear. 

On the top of this, on February 3rd, a thaw 
set in, and the water from the slopes fiUed the 
trenches, so that all intercourse had to be across 
the open ground. Torrents of rain damaged the 
finished works ; the parapet of the 1st parallel 
gave way in places and the banquette was washed 
away. The arming of the batteries was most 
laborious with the ground in such a state, and 
the teams of the columns and field artillery had 
to be employed in bringing in ammunition. 

Several guns had become useless by over- 
heating, while the enemy, by rapidly running out 
their guns, firing, and then running them back 

270 The Franco-German War. 

again, greatly disturbed the work. Not merely 
was it necessary to continue the shelling of Les- 
Perches during the night, but a brisk rifle fire 
had to be kept up. Only now and then did the 
batteries newly placed in the parallels succeed in 
silencing the guns of Hautes-Perches. Gun epaul- 
ments were erected to front Fort Bellevue, and 
the fortified railway station and Fort-des-Barres 
brought into action again. That under such toil 
and the unfavourable weather the health of the 
troops must have suffered severely need not be 
said ; the battalions could often only muster 300 
men for duty. 

Meanwhile, however, the artillery of the attack 
had become very much stronger than that of the 
defenders, and, in spite of every obstacle, the saps 
were pushed on to the edge of the ditch of Les- 

On February 8th, at 1 in the afternoon. Captain 
Roese had the sap rollers flung into the ditch of 
Hautes-Perches, sprang into it with five sappers, 
and rapidly scaled the parapet by the steps hewn 
in the escarp. He was immediately followed by 
the trench-guard, but no French were surprised 
excepting a few in the casemated traverses. 

The situation of the garrison of the fort had in 
fact become most critical. Ammunition could only 
be fetched under the enemy's fire, water only be 

Siege of Belfort. 271 

had from the pond at Vernier, and only boiled 
inside the works. Colonel Denfert had already 
given orders to conceal the materiel. Unseen by 
the besiegers, those guns of which the carriages 
could still be moved had been withdrawn, and only 
one company left in each fort, who, in case of a 
surprise, were to fire and escape. Nothing was to 
be found in the abandoned works but wrecked gun- 
carriages and four damaged guns. This fort was 
at once so adapted that its front should face the 
fortress, but at three o'clock the main work opened 
such a destructive fire on the lost positions that the 
men were forced to take shelter in the ditches. 

The garrison in Basses-Perches attempted some 
resistance, but supported by a reserve they soon 
retired on Le-Foumeau, leaving five guns and 
much battered ordinance. 

Here also the fire from the main work at first 
prevented the work of restoration, but four 15-cm. 
mortars were at last brought into the fort, and two 
9-cm. guns placed on the spur of the hill to the.west- 
ward, now directed their fire on Le-Foumeau 1 and 
BeUevue. During the night of the 9th the works 
were connected by a shelter-trench 624 metres 
long, and thus a third parallel was established. 

By this time they were in a position to direct 
the immediate attack on the castle, and on 
this the batteries in the Bois-des-Perches and those 

272 The Franco-German War. 

in the second parallel opened fire. Moitte, 
Justice, and Bellevue were shelled simultaneously. 
General von Debschitz had returned, and the 
investing corps was by this means again reinforced 
to its full numbers, and all the conditions were 
improved by the return of the frost. By the 
13th ninety-seven guns were mounted ready in 
the third parallel. 

The town had suffered terribly from the pro- 
longed bombardment. Nearly all the buildings 
were damaged, fifteen completely burnt down, also 
in the adjoining villages 164 houses had been de- 
stroyed by the defenders themselves. The fortifi- 
cations showed not less visible signs of destruction, 
particularly the castle. The stone facing of their 
walls had cnmibled into the ditch. Half of the 
mantleted embrasures had been shattered, the ex- 
pense powder magazines had been blown up, and a 
nionber of casemated traverses broken through. The 
guns in the highest positions could only be reached 
by ladders. The original strength of the garrison 
had been 372 officers and 17^322 men, but they had 
lost 32 officers and 4713 men, besides 336 citizens. 
The place was no longer tenable ; in addition to 
this came the news that the army by whom they 
expected to be relieved had laid down their arms. 

Under . these circumstances General von Tresc- 
kow summoned the commandant after such a 

Evacuation of Belfort. 273 

brave defence to surrender the fort, with a free 
retreat for the garrison, this stipulation having the 
sanction of his Majesty. The French Government 
themselves had given the commandant permission 
to accept these terms ; however. Colonel Denfert 
insisted that he must have a more direct order. 
To procure this an officer was sent to Basle, whilst 
there was a provisional armistice. 

On the 15th a treaty was signed at Versailles, 
which extended the armistice to the three depart- 
ments which till then had been excluded from it, 
and also to Belfort ; but the 1st article demanded 
the surrender of that place. 

After the conclusion of the definitive treaty, the 
garrison, in the course of the 17th and 18th, with 
its arms and trains, left the precincts of the fort, 
and passed to L'Isle-sur-Doubs and St.-Hyppolyte 
on French territory. The march was effected in 
Echelons of 1000 men at intervals of 5 km., the 
last accompanied by Colonel Denfert. The pro- 
visions which had been stored in the fort were 
carried after them in 150 Prussian baggage- 
waggons. At three o'clock in the afternoon, on 
February 18th, Lieutenant-General von Tresckow 
entered the place at the head of detachments of all 
the troops of the investing corps. 

They found 341 guns, of which 56 were useless, 
356 gun-carriages, of which 119 were shot to 


274 The Franco-German War. 

pieces, and 22,000 stand of aims, besides consider- 
able supplies of ammunition and provisions. 

The siege had cost the Germans 88 officers and 
2049 men, 245 of whom were released from im- 
prisonment by the capitulation. Immediately the 
work of restoring and arming the fort began, and 
the levelling of the siege- works. 



The Armistice. 

On the basis of the agreement of January 28th 
a line of demarcation was dra^vn, from which 
both parties were to ^vithdraw their outposts to a 
distance of 10 km. The line ran south from the 
mouth of the Seine as far as the Sarthe, crossed 
the Loire at Saumur, following the Creuse, turned 
eastward past Vierzon, Clam^cy and Chagny, and 
then met the Swiss frontier, after passing to the 
north of Chdlons-sur-Saone and south of Lons-le- 
Saulnier and St.-Laurent. The departments of 
Pas-de-Calais and du Nord, as well as the promon- 
tory of Havre, were particularly excluded. 

The remainder of the forts held by French 
troops within the provinces of which the Germans 
had taken possession were allowed a radius in pro- 
portion to their importance. 

In carrying out the details of the agreement a 
liberal interpretation was in several places allowed. 
The assent of those members of the National 

T 2 

276 The Franco-German War, 

Defence Committee who were in Paris was ob- 
tained ; but the delegates at Bordeaux, who had 
hitherto conducted the war, at first held aloof, and, 
indeed, as yet had not been informed of the stipu- 
lations. Gambetta, however, suspended operations, 
but could give the commanders no more precise 

Greneral Faidherbe was thus without orders with 
regard to the evacuation of Dieppe and Abbeville. 
General von Goeben, however, deferred taking 
possession. On the west of the Seine, the Grand 
Duke was forced to announce that the non-recogni- 
tion of the line pf demarcation would result in an 
immediate recommencement of hostilities. 

The commandant of the garrison at Langres 
also raised difficulties, and only retreated within 
his rayon on February 7th, as, later on, did 
Greneral RoUand in Besan9on. Auxonne refused 
to surrender the railway. Bitsch, which had not 
been worth the trouble of a serious attack, rejected 
the convention ; the investment had therefore to 
be strengthened, and only in March, when threat- 
ened with a determined attack, did the garrison 
abandon its peak of rock. 

Also the volunteers did not acquiesce at once, 
and there were skirmishes with them in various 
places. But after the conditions were finally 
settled, no more serious quarrels took place be- 

Relief of Paris. 277 

tween the inhabitants and the Grerman troops 
during the whole course of the armistice. 

All the Grerman corps outside Paris had occupied 
the forts lying in their front, more particularly the 
Vth that of Mont-Val^rien, and the IVth the town 
of St.-Denis. The ground between the forts and the 
walls remained neutral ground, which only civilians 
were allowed to cross, along particular roads placed 
under control of German examining troops. 

In their anxiety as to the indignation of the 
people, the French Government had so long hesi- 
tated to pronounce the word " capitulation," that 
now, even with free ingress of supplies, Paris was 
threatened with an outbreak of real famine. The 
unnecessary stores in the German magazines were 
therefore placed at the disposal of the authorities. 
The Commander-in-Chief, the Government authori- 
ties, and the military inspectors received orders to 
place no difficulties in the way of the repairing of 
the railways and roads in their districts, and they 
were even allowed to make use of the railroads 
which the invaders used to supply their own army, 
under German direction. Nevertheless, the first 
provision train only arrived in Paris on February 
3rd, and it was the middle of the month before the 
French had succeeded in remedying the prevalent 
distress in the capital. 

The German prisoners were at once given up. 

278 The Franco-German War. 

The smrender of arms and militaiy materiel 
followed by degrees, also the 200 million francs 
ransom imposed on the city. 

But it was still doubtful if the party of war 
" k outrance " in Bordeaux would agree with the 
arrangement of the Paris Government, and if at 
last the National Assembly, which was about to be 
convened, would accept the conditions of peace 
made by the conqueroi-s. Such measures as were 
necessary in case the war should break out again 
were therefore taken on the French as weU as on 
the German side. 

The distribution of the French army at the close 
of the armistice was not a favourable one. 

By General Faidherbe's advice the whole Army 
of the North was disbanded, as being too weak to 
face the strength of the forces that stood opposite 
to them. After the XXIInd Corps had been 
transported by sea to Cherbourg, the Army of 
Bretagne, under General de Colombo, was made 
up of this, ^vith the XXVIIth and part of the 
XlXth Corps, and, including Lipowski's volimteers, 
Cathelineaus and others, amounted to 150,000 
men. General Loysel, wth 30,000 ill-armed and 
inexperienced Gardes-Mobiles, remained in the 
trenches before Ha\Te. 

General Chanzy, after his retreat on Mayenne, 
had made a movement to the left, in order to assist 


Precautionary Measures. 279 

in a new plan of action with the Ilnd Army of the 
Loire, with its base at Caen, which, however, was 
never carried out. The XVIIIth, XXIst, XVIth, 
and XXVIth Corps stood between the lower Loire 
and the Cher from Angers to Ch&teauroxix, about 
100,000 men strong, the XXVth under General 
Pourcet at Bourges, and General de Pointe's Corps 
at Nevers. The Army of the Vosges had with- 
drawn to the south of Chalon-sur-Saone, and 
the remainder of the Army of the East assembled 
under General Cremer at Chambery as the XXIVth 

The total of all the field-troops amoimted to 
534,452 men. The volunteers, even the most 
reliable, were dismissed, and the National Guard 
were for the present regarded as incapables de 
rendre aucun service a la guerre. In the barracks, 
the manoeuvring camps, and in Algiers there were 
still 354,000 men, and 132,000 were on the muster 
rolls as recruits in 1871, but had not yet been told 

If the war should be persisted in, a plan for 
limiting it to defensive measures in the south-east 
of France had been suggested, for which, however, 
according to the report sent on February 8th by the 
Committee of Inquiry to the National Assembly, 
scarcely more than 252,000 men in fighting con- 
dition were available. The fleet, besides, had 

28o The Franco-German War. 

given up so considerable a number of its men and 
guns for service on land, that it was no longer 
able for any great undertaking at sea. 

On the German side the first consideration was 
to restore the troops to their war-standing, and 
make good the stores of materiel. 

The forts round Paris were at once armed on 
the fronts facing the city walls. In and between 
these stood 680 guns, 145 of which had been taken 
from the French; they were more than enough 
to keep the restless population under control. A 
part of the forces which till then had been occu- 
pied with the siege, being no longer required, were 
removed, in order that all the troops might have 
better accommodation. Besides, it seemed desir- 
able to strengthen the Ilnd Army, which faced the 
enemy's principal force ; in consequence the IVth 
Corps marched on Nogent-le-Rotrou, the Vth on 
Orleans, and the IXth, which was relieved there, 
on Vend6me ; so that now the quarters of this 
army extended from Alen9on to Tours, and up 
the Loire as far as Gien and Auxerre. 

The 1st Army was in the north with the Vlllth 
Corps on the Somme, and on both sides of 
the Lower Seine ; in the south the Army of the 
South occupied the line of demarcation from 
Baume to Switzerland, and the coimtry in the 

Precautionary Measures. 281 

At the end of February the invading field-army 
standing on French ground consisted of : — 


464,221 men with 1674 guns. 


55,562 horses. 

Troops in garrison 

: — 


105,272 men with 68 guns. 


5,681 horses. 

Total . 630,736 men and 1742 guns. 
Reserve forces left in Germany : — 

3,288 officers. 
204,684 men. 
26,603 horses. 

Arrangements were made, that in case of a re- 
commencement of hostilities, the strongest resistance 
could be made at all points. The armistice had 
nearly reached its end, and the troops had already 
been more closely collected to be ready to advance 
first of all on the ojffensive, towards the south, 
when the clerk of the Council announced that the 
armistice was extended to the 24th, and again 
prolonged to midnight on the 26th. 

Considerable difficulties had arisen from the dif- 
ferences of opinion with regard to the election of 
the National Assembly, between the Government 
in Paris and the Delegation at Bordeaux. The 

282 The Franxo-German War. 

Germans wished to see the choice, not of a party, 
but of the whole nation, expressed by a free 
suffrage. But Gambetta had ruled, contrary to 
the conditions of the armistice, that all those who, 
after December 2nd, 1851, had held any position 
in the Imperial Government should be regarded as 
ineligible. It was not till the Parisian Goveiiunent 
had obtained a majority of votes by despatching 
several of its members to Bordeaux, and till the 
dictator had resigned on February 6th, that the 
voting went on quickly and unhindered. 

The deputies were already assembled in Bor- 
deaux by the 12th. M. Thiers was elected chief of 
the executive, and went to Paris on the 19th with 
Jules Favrc, determined to end the aimless war at 
any cost. 

Negotiations for peace were opened, and after 
five days' violent debating, when at last the Ger- 
mans consented to restore Belfort to the French, 
the preliminaries were signed on the afternoon of 
the 26th. 

France agreed to surrender to Germany a part of 
Lorraine and Alsace, with the exception of Belfort, 
and a war indenmity of five milliards of francs. 

The evacuation of the places that the Germans 
had taken was to begin immediately on the ratifica- 
tion of the treaty, and be continued by degrees in 
proportion as the money was paid. As long as the 

German Occupation of Paris. 2S3 

German troops remained on French soil they were 
to be fed at the expense of France. On the other 
hand ; no further requisitions were to be made by 
the Gennans. Immediately after the first evacua- 
tion the French forces were to retire behind the 
Loire, with the exception of 40,000 men in Paris 
and the necessary garrisons in the fortresses. 

After the ratification of these preliminaries, 
further terms were to be discussed in Brussels, and 
the return of the French prisoners would begin. 
Thus the armistice was prolonged to March 12th ; 
but it was in the option of either of the belligerent 
powers to end it after March 3rd by giving three 
days' notice. 

Finally, it was stipulated that the German Army 
should have the satisfaction of marching into Paris, 
and remaining there till the ratification of the 
treaty ; but they would restrict themselves to the 
quarter of the to^vn lying between Point-du-jour 
and the Rue du Faubourg-St.-Honor^. This was 
occupied on March 1st, after a parade in Long- 
champs before his Majesty of 30,000 men, con- 
sisting of 11,000 of the Vlth, 11,000 of the Ilnd 
Bavarian, and 8000 of the Xlth Army Corps. On 
the 3rd and 5th of March they were to have 
been relieved by other detachments of the same 
strength, but M. Thiers succeeded by March 1st in 
getting the National Assembly at Bordeaux to 

284 The Franco-German War. 

accept the treaty, after the deposition of the Napo- 
leonic dynasty had been voted. The exchaoge of 
ratifications took place in the afternoon of the 
2nd, and on the 3rd the first detachment marched 
back into quarters. 

The Return March of the German Army. 

By the Ilird Article, the whole of the land be- 
tween the Seine and the Loire, excepting Paris, 
was to be evacuated with as little delay as possible 
by both armies ; the right bank of the former river, 
on the other hand, was only to be cleared after the 
conclusion of the definitive treaty of peace. Even 
then the six eastern departments were still left in 
possession of the Germans as a pledge for the last 
three milliards; not, however, occupied by more 
than 50,000 men. 

The order of march was drawn up at head- 
quarters, with a view no less to the comfort of the 
troops than to the re-formation of the original 
order of battle, and the possibility of rapid assembly 
in case of need. 

The forces told off for permanent occupation of 
the ceded provinces marched thither at once. 

The reserve and Landwehr troops in Germany 
were disbanded, as well as the Baden contingent, 
which, however, for the present remained there as a 

Return March of the Invaders. 285 

mobilized force. The Army head-quarters in Lor- 
raine, Rheims, and Versailles were broken up, and 
their authority handed over to the Generals in com- 
mand ; but in order to maintain order in the rear 
of the army, the Vlth and Xllth Corps, as well as 
the Wurtemburg Field Division, were placed under 
the immediate command of the Army head- 

By March Slst the Army had taken possession 
of the newly-acquired territory, bounded on the 
west by the Seine from its source to its mouth. 

The 1st Army was in the departments of Seine- 
Inf^rieure and Somme, the Ilnd in front of Paris, 
in the departments of Oise and Seine-et-Mame, the 
Ilird in the departments of Aube and Haute- 
Mame, the Army of the South in the last hostile 
districts. The forts of Paris on the left bank were 
given up to the French authorities ; the siege park 
and the captured war materiel had been carried off. 
In consideration of the wishes of the French 
Government, in order that the National Assembly 
might be allowed as early as possible to sit at 
Versailles, the head-quarters were broken up and 
transferred to Ferriferes, even sooner than had been 
agreed. On March 15th his Majesty left Nancy for 

All the troops that were left before Paris were 
placed under the command of the Crown Prince of 

286 The Franco-German War. 

Saxony, and General von Manteuffel was nominated 
Commander of the Army of Occupation. 

At the moment when France had freed her- 
self by a heavy sacrifice, an enemy of the most 
dangerous character appeared from within : the 
Commime in Paris. 

The 40,000 men who had been left there proved 
themselves unequal to the task of keeping the 
rebellious movement under control; even during 
the siege it had on several occasions betrayed its 
presence, and now broke out in open civil war. 
Large masses of people, encouraged by the 
National Guard and the Garde-Mobile, took 
possession of the guns and set themselves up in 
armed opposition to the Government. M. Thiers 
had already, by March 1 8th, summoned to Ver- 
sailles such regiments as could still be trusted, 
to mthdraw them from the dangers of party 
influence, and for the protection of the National 
Assembly there. The French capital remained 
destroyed, and plundered by the French troops. 

The GeiTOans could have easily and quickly put 
an end to the matter, but what Government would 
allow its rights to be established by foreign 
bayonets ? The German Commanders-in-Chief 
limited themselves to forbidding any rebellious 
disturbances within their own district, and to pre- 
venting any further marching into Paris from out- 

The Commune in Paris. 287 

side. The work of disarming, which had com- 
menced, was interrupted ; the troops of the Ilird 
Corps were drawn closer to the forts, and the out- 
posts were replaced along the line of demarcation, 
where 200,000 men could be collected within two 

The authorities in Paris, however, announced 
that any attempt to arm the fronts facing the 
Germans would result in an instantaneous bom- 
bardment of the city. The rebels, however, were 
fully occupied in destroying and burning, and in 
executing their superiors in the interior of Paris. 
They did not turn against their foreign enemy, but 
against the Government chosen by the nation, and 
prepared for an attack on Versailles. 

The leaders of the State who were there, bound 
by the conditions of the treaty, were almost defence- 
less ; meanwhile the Germans were prepared and 
willing to march up a reinforcement of 80,000 men, 
troops from Besan9on, Auxerre and Cambrai; 
and their transport would be furthered by the 
German troops in occupation of the districts 
through which they would have to pass. 

The releasing of the prisoners had, on the con- 
trary, been reduced. And these were, for the most 
part, the best disciplined of the forces ; but they 
might not improbably join the hostile party, so at 
first only 20,000 troops of the line were set free. 

288 The Franco-German War. 

General MacMahon inarched on April 4th with 
the Govemment troops towards Paris, and entered 
the city on the 21st. As they then were engaged 
for eight days in barricade fighting, and troops of 
fugitives threatened to break through the German 
lines, the Ilird Army was ordered to form in 
closer order. The outposts advanced almost to the 
gates of the city, and barred all communication 
through them until, at the end of the month, Paris 
was again in the control of the Govemment. 

In the meantime, the negotiations commenced 
in Brussels and continued in Frankfort were 
making rapid progress, and by May 10th the 
definite treaty of peace, based on the preliminaries, 
was ready to be signed. The ratification on both 
sides followed within the appointed time of ten 

Thus a war, carried on with such a vast expen- 
diture of force on both sides, was brought to an 
end by incessant and restless energy in the short 
period of seven months. 

Even in the first four weeks eight battles took 
place, under which the French Empire collapsed, 
and the French Army was swept from the 

Fresh forces, massive but incompetent, equalized 
the original numerical superiority of the Germans, 

General Estimate of Losses. 289 

and it needed twelve more battles to secure the 

decisive siege of the enemy's capital. 

Twenty fortified places were taken, and not a 

single day passed without a struggle, great or 


The war had cost the Germans many \dctims ; 

they lost 6,247 officers, 123,453 men, 1 flag, 

6 guns. 
The total losses of the French were incalculable ; 

in prisoners only they amounted to : — 

In Germany . . 11,860 officers, 371,981 men. 

In Paris . . 7,456 „ 241,686 „ 

Disarmed in Switz- 
erland . . 2,192 „ 88,381 „ 

21,508 officers, 702,048 men. 

107 flags and eagles, 1,915 field-guns, 5,526 
fort-gims were captured. 

Strasburg and Metz, which had been aUenated 
from Germany in a time of weakness, were re- 
conquered, and the German Empire had risen 


VOL. ir. 



Memorandum on the Councils op War said to have 


In the accounts of historical events^ as they are handed 
down to posterity, mistakes assume the form of legends 
which it is not always easy subsequently to disprove. 

Among others is the fable which very circumstantially 
ascribes the great decisions taken in the course of the 
German campaigns, before and in 1870-71, to the con- 
sultations of councils of war previously convened. 

For instance, the battle of Koniggratz. 

I can relate in a few lines the circumstances under 
which an event of such far-reaching importance had 

The Master of the Ordnance, Feldzeugmeister Bene- 
dek, had, in his advance to the northward, to secure him- 
self against the Ilnd Prussian Army marching on the 
east over the mountains of Schleswig. To this end four 
of his Corps had one after another been pushed forward 
on his flank, and had all been beaten within three days. 
ITiey now joined the main body of the Austrian Army, 
which had meanwhile reached Dubenetz. 

Here, then, on June 30th, almost the whole of the 
Austrian forces were standing actually within the line of 
operations between the two Prussian armies; but the 
Ist was already fighting its way to Gitschin, designated 

294 The Franxo-German War. 

from Berlin as the point on which they were to concen- 
trate^ and the Ilnd had also advanced close on the Upper 
Elbe ; thns they were both so near that the enemy conld 
not attack the one without the other falling on his rear. 
His strategic advantages were nullified by the tactical 

Under these circumstances, and having already lost 
40,000 men in previous battles, General Benedek gave up 
the advance, and during the night of June 30th began 
his retreat on Koniggratz. 

The movement of six Army Corps and four Cavalry 
Divisions, marching in only four columns, which were 
necessarily very deep, could not be accomplished in the 
course of a single day. They halted in close order 
between Trotina and Lipa ; but when on July 2nd they 
were still there, it was owing to the extreme fatigue of 
the troops, and the difficulty, nay, impossibility, of 
withdrawing so large a body of men beyond the Elbe, 
under the eyes of an active enemy and by a limited 
number of passages. In fact, the Austrian general could 
no longer manoeuvre ; he must fight. 

It is a noteworthy fact that neither his advance on 
Dubenetz nor his retreat on Lipa was known to the 
Prussians. These movements were concealed from the 
Ilnd Army by the Elbe, and the cavalry of the 1st at 
that time constituted a useless mass of 8000 horse 
remaining with the Corps. The four squadrons attached 
to each Infantry Division were of course not able to effect 
the reconnoissance, as subsequently was done in 1870 by 
a more advantageous plan of formation. 

Thus at head-quarters at Gitschin, where the King was, 
nothing certain was known. It was supposed that the 
main body of the hostile army was still advancing, and 

Appendix. 295 

that it would draw up in a position with the Elbe in its 
front and the wings at the fortress of Joseph-stadt and 
Koniggratz. There were these two alternatives — either 
to outflank this strong position, or attack in front. 

By the first the communications of the Austrian Army 
would be so seriously threatened at Pardabitz that it 
might be compelled to retreat. Bat with such a move- 
ment the Ilnd Prussian Army must take the place of 
the 1st and cross over to the right bank of the Elbe. 
At the same time the flank movement of the 1st Army, 
close past the enemy's front, might easily be interfered 
with, if passages enough were opened. 

In the second case, success could only be hoped for 
if an advance of the Ilnd Army on the right wing 
of the enemy's position could be combined with the 
attack in front. For this it must be kept on the left 

The separation of the two armies, which was for the 
present intentionally maintained, allowed of either plan 
being followed ; but mine was the serious responsibility of 
advising his Majesty which. 

To keep both open for the present, General von 
Herwarth was ordered to occupy Pardubitz, and the 
Crown Prince to remain on the left bank of the Elbe, 
to reconnoitre along that river as well as the Aupa and 
the Metau, and remove all obstacles which might oppose 
a crossing in either direction. At last, on July 2nd, 
Prince Frederick Charles was ordered, in the event of 
his finding a large force in front of the Elbe, to attack 
at once. But, on the evening of that day, it was an* 
nounced to the Prince that the whole Austrian Army 
had marched on the Bistritz ; and, in obedience to in- 
structions^ he at once ordered the 1st Army and the 

296 The Franco-German War. 

Army of tlie Elbe to unite close in front of the enemy 
by daybreak next morning. 

General von Voigt-Rhetz brought the news at eleven 
o'clock in the evening to the King at Gitschin^ and he 
sent him over to me. 

This news settled all doubts and lifted a weight from 
my mind. " Thank God ! " I said, sprang out of bed, 
and hastened across to the King, who was lodged on the 
other side of the Market Place. 

His Majesty also had gone to rest in his little camp- 
bed. After a brief explanation on my part, he said he 
fully understood the situation, decided on giving battle 
next day with all three armies at once, and desired me 
to transmit the necessary orders to the Crown Prince, 
who was at once to cross the Elbe. 

The whole interview with his Majesty had lasted barely 
ten minutes. No one else was present. 

This was the Council of War before Koniggratz. 

General von Podbielski and Major Count Wartens- 
leben shared my quarters. The orders to the Ilnd Army 
were drawn up forthwith and despatched in duplicate by 
two different routes before midnight. One, carried by 
General von Voigt-Rhetz, informed Prince Frederick 
Charles of the steps to be taken ; the other was sent 
direct to Koniginhof. 

In the course of his night-ride of above six miles 
(German), Lieutenant-Colonel Count Finckenstein had 
to pass the outposts of the 1st Army Corps, which was 
most to the rear. He handed to the oflScer on duty a 
special letter to be forwarded immediately to the general 
in command, ordering an immediate muster of the troops 
and an independent advance, even before orders should 
reach him from the Crown Prince. 

Appendix. 297 

The position of the Anstrians on July 3rd had a front 
of not more than a German mile. The Prussian armies 
advanced on it in a semicircle of about five miles in 
extent. But while in the centre the Ist and Ilnd Corps 
of the Ist Army stood before daylight close in front of 
the enemy^ on the right wing General von Herwarth had 
to advance on the Bistritz from Smidar in the dark, by 
very bad roads, above two miles ; and on the left, orders 
from head-quarters could not even reach the Crown Prince 
before four in the momiug. It was therefore decided 
that an engagement was to be fought with the centre to 
detain the Austrian Army for some hours. 

Above all, any possible ofEensive move on the part of 
the enemy must here be met, and for this the whole 
Ilird Corps and cavalry stood at hand ; but the battle 
could only be decided by a flank movement by both the 
Prussian wings at once. 

I had ridden out early to the heights above Sadowa 
with my officers, and at eight o'clock the King also 
arrived there. 

It was a dull mcrniDg, and from time to time a shower 
fell. The horizon was dim, for on the right the white 
clouds of smoke showed that the head of the Ist Army 
was already fighting some way off, outside the villages on 
the Bistritz. On the left, in the woods of Swip, brisk 
rifle-firing was audible. Behind the King, besides his 
staff were his royal guests with their numerous suites of 
adjutants, equerries, and led-horses, in number as many 
as two squadrons. An Austrian battery seemed to have 
selected them to aim at, and compelled him to move 
away with a smaller following. 

Soon after, Count Wartensleben and I rode through 
Sadowa, which the enemy had already abandoned. The 

298 The Franco-German War. 

vanguard of the 8th Division had drawn np the guns 
nnder cover of the tirailleurs who had been sent forward, 
but several shells fell there from a large battery at the 
skirt of the wood. As we rode down the road we 
admired the coolness of a hnge ox which went on its 
way heedless of the shot^ and seemed** determined to 
charge the enemy's position. 

The formidable array of the Ilird and Xth Austrian 
Corps' Artillery opposite the wood now prevented any 
attempt to break through if, and I was in time to 
countermand an order which had been given to do so. 

Meanwhile^ further to the left. General von Transecky 
had already acted on the offensive. After a sharp 
struggle he had driven the enemy out of the Swip woods, 
and got through to the further side. Against him he 
had the lYth Austrian Corps ; bnt now the Ilnd and 
part of the Ilird Corps turned on the 7th Division ; 
fifty-one battalions against fourteen. In the thick 
brushwood all the detachments had got mixed, individual 
command was impossible, and, in spite of our obstinate 
resistance, whole troops were taken prisoners and others 

Such a rabble rushed out of the wood at the very 
moment when the King and his staff rode np ; his 
Majesty looked on with some displeasure,* but the 
wounded officer who was trying to keep his little troop 
together at once led them back into the fight. In spite 
of heavy losses the division got possession of the 
northern side of the wood. It had drawn down itself 

^ I have a history of the war, pablisbed at Tokio, in the Japan- 
ese language, with very original illustrations. One of these has 
for its title, " The King scolding the Army." 

Appendix. 299 

very large forces of the enemy which were subsequently 
missing in the positions they ought to have defended. 

It was now eleven o'clock. The head of the 1st Army 
had crossed the Bistritz and taken most of the villages 
along its banks; but these were only the enemy's out- 
posts, which he tad no serious intention of guarding. 
His main Corps held a position in the rear from whence, 
with 250 guns, it commanded the open plains which the 
Prussians must cross in ordei* to attack. On the right. 
General von Herwarth had reached the Bistritz, but on 
the Jeft nothing was yet to be seen of the Crown 

The battle had come to a standstill. In the centre the 
1st Army was still fighting round the villages on the 
Bistritz ; the cavalry could not get forward, and the 
artillery found no good position to occupy. The troops 
had been for five hours under the enemy's hottest fire, 
without food, for there had not been time to prepare it. 

Some doubt as to the issue of the battle existed pro- 
bably in many minds ; perhaps in that of Count Bismarck 
as he offered me a cigar. As I was subsequently in- 
formed, he took it for a good sign that of two cigars I 
coolly took the best. 

The King asked me at about this time what I thought of 
the prospects of the battle. I replied, '* Your Majesty 
to-day will not only win the battle, but decide the war." 

It could not be otherwise. 

We had the advantage in numbers,' which in war is 

^ During a loug peace the sphere of action of the War Minister's 
department and the G-eneral Staff were not distinctly defined The 
providing for the troops in peace was the function of the former, 
and in war-time a number of ofRcial duties which could be super- 
intended by the central authorities at home. Thus the place of 

300 The Franco-German War. 

never to be despised ; and our Ilnd Army must come up 
in the flank and rear of the Austrians. 

At about 1.30 a white cloud was seen on the 
height crowned with trees and visible from afar^ on 
which our field-glasses had been centred. It was 
indeed not yet the Ilnd Army, but the smoke of the fire 
opened on its advance. The joyful shout, *' The Crown 
Prince is coming ! " ran through the ranks. I sent the 
desired news to General von Herwarth, who, meanwhile, 
had carried Problus from the Saxons in spite of a heroic 

The Ilnd Army had started at 7.30 in the morning; 
only the 1st Corps had waited till about 9.15. The 
advance by bad roads, in part across the fields, had 
taken much time ; the ridge of hills stretching from 
Horenowes to Trotina, in the march, if efficiently held 
must be a serious obstacle ; but in their eager pursuit 
of Fransecky's Division the enemy's right wing had 
wheeled to the left, so that it lay open to some extent to 
an attack in the rear. 

The Crown Prince's progress was not visible to usf, but 
at about half-past three the King ordered the advance 
of the 1st Army. 

the Minister o! War was not at head-quarters, but at Berlin. The 
Chief of the General Staff, on the other hand, from the moment 
when the mobilization is ordered, assnmes the whole responsibility 
for the marching and transport already prepared for during peace, 
both for the firnt assembling of the forces and for their subsequent 
employment, for which he has only to ask the consent of the 
Commander-in-Chief — always, with us, the King. 

How necessary this severance of authority is,! learnt in June,1866. 
"Without my knowledge the order had been given for the Vllth 
Corps to remain on the Bhine. It was only by my representa- 
tions that the 16th Division was also moved up into Bohemia, and 
oar numerical superiority thus brought np to a decisive strength. 

Appendix. 301 

As we came ont of the wood of Sadowa we found still 
a part of the great battery which had so long prevented 
US from debouching there^ but the teams and gunners 
lay dead by the wrecked guns. There was nothing else 
to be seen of the enemy for a long way round. 

The Austrian retreat from the position, stormed on both 
sides^ had become inevitable^ and had^ in fact^ been effected 
some time since. Their capital artillery^ firing on to the 
last moment^ had screened their retreat and given the 
infantry a long start. Crossing the Bistritz seriously 
delayed the progress, especially of the cavalry, so that 
only isolated detachments came up with the enemy. 

We rode at a smart gallop across the wide field of 
battle, without looking much about us at the scene of 
horror. On the other side we joined our three armies 
which had at last pushed through the narrow place from 
various directions, and got much mixed. It took twenty- 
four hours to remedy the confusion and re-form the com- 
panies ; pursuit was at that moment impossible, but the 
victory was complete. 

The exhausted men at once sought a spot to rest on 
in the villages or the open country where best they 
might. Anything that came to hand by way of food 
was of course taken ; my wandering ox probably among 
the rest. The death-cries of pigs and geese were heard ; 
but necessity knows no law, and the baggage-waggons 
were naturally not on the spot. 

The King, too, remained at a hamlet on the field. Only 
I and my two oflScers had to ride five miles back to 
Gitschin, where the offices were. 

We had set out at four in the morning, and had been 
fourteen hours in the saddle. In the sudden emerging 
no one had thought of providing himself with food. An 

302 The Franco-German War. 

Uhlan of the 2iid Begiment had given me part of a 
sansage-bread he had got. On onr way back we met 
the endless train of provision and ammunition waggons, 
often extending all across the road. We did not reach 
oar quarters till midnight. There was nothing to eat 
even here at this hour, but I was so exhausted that I threw 
myself on my bed in my great -coat and scarf, and fell 
asleep instantly. Next morning new orders had to be 
drawn out and laid before his Majesty at Horitz. 

The Great King had struggled for seven years to 
reduce the might of Austria, and his more fortunate 
and more powerful grandson had achieved it in as 
many weeks. The campaign had proved decisive in the 
first eight days from June 27th to July 8rd. 

The war of 1866 was entered on not because the 
existence of Prussia was threatened, nor in obedience to 
public opinion and the voice of the people : it was a 
struggle, long foreseen and calmly prepared for, recog- 
nized as a necessity by the Cabinet, not for territorial 
aggrandizement or material advantage, but for an ideal 
end — the establishment of power. Not a foot of land 
was exacted from conquered Austria, but it had to 
renounce all part in the hegemony of Germany. 

The Imperial family alone were to blame if the old 
Empire had now for centuries allowed domestic politics 
to override German national politics. Austria had ex- 
hausted her strength in conquests south of the Alps, and 
left the western German provinces unprotected, instead 
of following the road pointed out by the course of the 
Danube. Its centre of gravity lay out of Germany; 
Prussia's lay within it. Prussia felt itself strong enough 
and called upon to assume the leadership of the German 
races. The regrettable but unavoidable exclusion of 

Appendix. 303 

one of thorn from the new Empire could only be to a 
small extent remedied by a subsequent alliance. But 
Prussia has become immeasurably greater without Aus- 
tria, than it was before with Austria. 

Bat all this has nothing to do with the legends of 
which I was speaking. 

One has been sung in verse, and in fine verse too. 

The scene is Versailles. The French are making a 
sortie from Paris^ and the generals^ instead of leading 
their troops, are assembled to consider whether head- 
quarters may safely remain any longer at Versailles. 
Opinions are divided, no one dares speak out. The Chief 
of the General Stafi*, who is above all called on to express 
his views, remains silent. The consternation seems 
to be great. Only the War Minister rises and pro- 
tests with the greatest emphasis against a measure so 
injurious from a political and military point of view as 
a removal. He is warmly thanked by the King as being 
the only man who has the courage to speak the truth 
freely and fearlessly. 

The truth is that while the King and his whole escort 
had ridden out to the Vth Army Corps, the Chamberlain 
in his over-anxiety had the horses put to the royal 
carriages, and this became known in the town ; and this 
indeed may have excited all sorts of hopes in the san- 
guine inhabitants. 

Versailles was protected by four Army Corps. It 
never entered anybody's head to think of leaving it. 

I can positively assert no Council of War was ever 
held either in 1866 or 1870-71. 

Excepting on the march or in days of battle, an 
audience was regularly held by his Majesty at ten 
o^clock, at which I, accompanied by the Quartermaster- 

304 The Franxo-German War. 

Greneral^ laid the latest reports and news before liim> 
and made onr suggestions on that basis. The Chief of 
the War Cabinet and the Minister of War were also 
presentj and^ so long as the head-quarters of the Ilird 
Army were at Versailles, the Crown Prince also, but all 
merely as listeners. The King occasionally required 
them to give him information on one point or another ; 
but I do not remember that he ever asked for advice 
concerning the operations in the field or the sugges- 
tions I made. 

These, which I always discussed beforehand with my 
staff officers, were, on the contrary, generally maturely 
weighed by his Majesty. He always pointed out with a 
military eye and an invariably correct estimate of the 
position, all the objections that might be raised to their 
execution; but as in war every step is beset with danger, 
the plans laid before him were invariably adopted. 


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